For mankind to truly understand the value of nature, it must return to the Bible for answers. Photo by Mickey Conlon

A Christian solution to crisis

By  Laura Ieraci, Catholic Register Special
  • October 4, 2014

The world’s environmental crisis reflects a global spiritual crisis, and saving the planet requires a return to a world view centred around God, argues the director of the ecumenical Green Church program in Canada 

Norman Lévesque calls this an ecological conversion in which God is the focal point. He proposes “a Christian answer to the environmental crisis” that turns to the Bible, the stories of the saints, eucharistic prayers and Christian virtues to educate society about the value of nature and to inspire better care for the environment. 

“I think that Christians everywhere are seeing that the environmental crisis needs an answer, and not only from schools and industries and citizens, it needs it from Christians and the Church,” said Lévesque in a recent Vatican Radio interview. 

Lévesque makes his argument in Greening Your Church, a 100-page book published by Novalis that explains the theological foundation of what he calls “creation care ministry.” It’s a movement he says is developing slowly but steadily in dioceses across North America and Europe. 

Lévesque holds a masters degree in theology and is the director of the Green Church Program offered through the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism. He also leads the creation care ministry in the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil near Montreal. 

Lévesque said Creation Care Ministry differs from secular environmentalism and scientific mysticism by providing Christian solutions to the environmental crisis. He said the three pillars of this ministry are building awareness, action and spirituality. 

Among the 44 Canadian churches and religious institutions currently committed to the Green Church Program, some have chosen to build awareness by organizing demonstrations or walks in their neighbourhoods, while others have held movie nights on the theme of creation, he said. 

The action pillar includes reducing waste and energy consumption, switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances, improving insulation, growing a garden and cleaning up local parks, among other activities. 

Developing a spirituality of creation is likely the most challenging of the three pillars, but it is the most important in distinguishing Creation Care Ministry from the secular environmental movement. 

“Creation care is part of our Christian tradition but we’ve kind of lost the references,” Lévesque said. 

He believes the environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis that resulted from a paradigm shift in human history from a God-centred understanding of the world to one focused on human beings. 

“In antiquity,” he said, it was understood that “God… created everything with wisdom and the more you knew about creation, the wiser you were.” 

But Enlightenment thinkers such as Francis Bacon and René Descartes objectified nature and the person became the point of reference. Knowledge became equated with power rather than with wisdom, and the relationship with the rest of creation was lost. 

Creation care ministry’s eco-spirituality proposes ways to recover the traditional relationship with nature. Lévesque recommends re-reading parts of the Bible, promoting Church teachings on God’s creation in homilies and in parish catechesis and following the examples of saints who were close to nature. 

(Ieraci is a Canadian writer living in Rome.) 

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