You can’t have healthy people on a sick planet

Sixty-five participants joined Faith Connections, Development and Peace and the University of Toronto Newman Centre for a day of retreat entitled “Ecological Justice: The Connection Between Catholicism and the Environment”. The day combined talks by Dr. Dennis Patrick O’Hara, a professor of Ethics and Eco-Theology at St. Michaels College with group discussions, prayer, reflection and the Mass.

Dr. O’Hara divided the day into two sessions surrounding ecological justice, with the morning session focusing on how eco-justice is demanded by our faith. To be a true humanitarian is to be good environmentalist, as environmental issues such as climate change have the greatest impact on poorer communities. As it currently stands, environmental degradation causes more people to become refuges than wars and other conflicts. We are products of Creation, and as such it is impossible to separate ourselves from the environment and all of the resources it provides. As Dr. O’Hara quoted from Fr. Thomas Berry, “You can’t have healthy people on a sick planet.”

The afternoon session changed perspectives, and focused on how our need for eco-justice is informed by our faith. God’s goodness and love could not be contained, and thus God created all of creation, not one organism or being, to express his love. Dr. O’Hara pointed out that there are two “books” of revelation for us to follow; one being Scripture while the other is Creation. We cannot follow one while neglect the other.

We must take care of God’s Creation in order to worship him fully. Yes, it may be overwhelming and difficult. Then again, it may be as simple as doing the next good thing.

Write-up by Audrey Reid, photo by Kelly Bourke. Click here for more photos.