Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 22, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Earth Charter and the CSJ 2007 Acts of Chapter by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ

With this article the Home/Land Committee concludes its series of articles on the Earth Charter and its relevance to our 2007 Acts of Chapter. The Earth Charter, written by a large group of diverse people, offers 4four main principles and includes sixteen areas for realigning our priorities and values with the human community and the Earth community. It seeks to give voice to persons from every strata of society as well as to creatures of the non-human world, recognizing the importance of right relationships among humans and creation. Our acts of chapter focus also on right relationships with God, creation, one another, the neighbor and Church.

Mary Evelyn Tucker was one of the people who helped to write the Charter. She offered her reflections on the Earth Charter in April 1999 in an online conference entitled "Global Ethics, Sustainable Development and the Earth Charter." Ms. Tucker observes that the Earth Charter is a new kind of compass, "a guiding instrument that calls upon the wisdom of the past, the best knowledge of the present and the hopes of the future." She speaks of the Earth Charter as "the first major Declaration of Interdependence," calling us to recognize our common destiny. Our 2007 Acts of Chapter might also be looked upon as a compass expressed through the word communion as our guiding principle. Both of these documents are based on relationships that seek to establish a common ground for material and spiritual sustainability.
Before humans became the latest "event" in evolution, the Earth community lived in a marvelous communion. One scientist, an astrophysicist, commented during the writing of the Charter, that "Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life." He recognized that each and every creature: animal, plant, insect, tree, even a rock, was a form of life. For us as people of faith, might not each member of the Earth community, as well as those of us of the human community, be viewed as mirrors of the living God, with a spiritual as well as material nature?
The cosmology of our time acknowledges evolution as the overall context in which we are re-thinking and re-imagining our role as humans. As the latest form of life, we are the ones who have the ability to preserve or destroy all that has come before us. Hence, the need to pray and reflect on each act of chapter and the Earth Charter for inspiration in evoking the decisions we need to make regarding our relationships with both the human and non-human communities.
Before you conclude this article, please stop and take a few moments to recall a time spent in your favorite place in nature. Use all your senses to re-imagine that time. Now picture that place as no longer existing or as having been developed or polluted beyond restoration or without the flora and fauna that delighted you or left you in a state of awe. Sadly, we have already seen this devastation happen in some areas where we live.
All of us at the grassroots level must commit to knowing and understanding the needs of the Earth community which depend on us to preserve the integrity of every human and non-human image of God. Only through a change of attitude, commitment to values and willingness to change our way of living will the principles of the Earth Charter and the 2007 Acts of Chapter be made tangible over time. And only then will our special places be preserved and available for our delight and spiritual inspiration.
To download a copy of the Earth Charter, click here.