Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

What does your religion have to say about global warming and mankind's moral duty to the environment?

Both recent delegates of the Vatican to the United Nations, the Most Rev. Celestino Migliore and before him, Cardinal Martino, have made numerous interventions to various bodies of the U.N. on the great threat of global warming. The Church constantly calls on all nations to work together to make the world a more safe and prosperous place by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Catechism, in number 299, reminds us that all of creation has been entrusted to us and that the Church has a responsibility here. Ultimately, it is human choices which have led to the current ecological crisis. We are more than aware that the goodness of creation goes beyond its instrumental worth. Our relationship of care is not solely one of looking after nature so that it looks after us. We are also meant to cultivate and preserve nature as something beautiful and worthwhile in itself that both reveals and glorifies God who created the universe.

As co-creators, we each have the task of developing the potential both of natures resources and our own human gifts. The Church teaches us that by means of all our work, we participate in the work of creation. Respecting our environment, working to maintain it and protect it, is a duty which must be taken seriously. Almost all the pertinent documents of the Church remind us, however, that while we must make a personal commitment to exercise that duty, it is something which we cannot do alone. It involves the cooperation of all people and all nations, working together to see that all of what the Creator gave us is preserved, protected and developed. As we read in the book of Genesis, "God saw that it was good, very good indeed". The Church calls on each of us to keep it that way!