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Catholic church focuses on environmental justice


7 September 2006

Catholic church focuses on environmental justice

'Environmental justice' is the theme for Social Justice Week in the Catholic Church during 10-16 September this year.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand's Director Michael Smith said sea rises in the Pacific and an increase in weather related disasters have helped the Catholic social justice agency become more aware of the strong links between poverty and environmental degradation. Requests for the topic have also come from many parishes and schools, particularly from the Palmerston North Diocese which experienced severe flooding in 2004 and again this year.

Caritas has produced a resource kit, including the Social Justice Week booklet entitled Renew the face of the earth, which considers some of the many pressing environmental justice issues in the light of Catholic social teaching. This booklet has been sent to all parishes, youth contacts and Catholic primary schools.

In addition, God's Earth our Earth, a CD ROM full of practical activities for years 1-8 has been sent to all Catholic primary schools. God's Earth our Earth encourages teachers to inspire young people to think, pray and act within their own community in relation to various aspects of environmental justice.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has prepared a statement for Social Justice Week, stating, "The existence of extreme poverty and environmental destruction in our world are not natural forces, not acts of God, but result from human behaviour."

Michael Smith says that in contemplating environmental issues, "Our Catholic tradition brings our awareness of being stewards of God's creation, solidarity with the poor, and habits of self-sacrifice for the common good."

If you would like to know about Social Justice Week resources, please contact Lisa Beech or Catherine Gibbs at Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand on (04) 496 1742.


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