A Topic at the 35th General Congregation

The Ecological Dimension
of the Society's Mission

Promotio Justitiae,
We Live in a Broken World: Reflections on Ecology,
#70, 1999.

GC 34, Decree 3, #20

GC 34, Decree 9

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Vatican 2004, nº 471, 478.

The Ignatian Ecological Network, coordinated by the Secretary for Social Justice

A new awareness of the link between ecology and justice prompted a large number of postulates (requests for discussion) on the ecology - more response than any other topic and coming from around the world.

These postulates emphasized that the issue of ecology was at its heart about justice and the poor and requested that the ecology/justice link be affirmed at the Congregation. More than just an apostolic priority, the issue of the ecology and its justice dimensions should be considered a "constituative dimension" of the Jesuit mission.

Misuse of the earth's resources has had tragic and widespread consequences for the poor and marginalized people around the world. Those who are least able to speak up for themselves are also most impacted by the burden of the earth's depleting resources. Ecological disasters are increasing around the world and an increasing number of refugees have been a direct result of this situation.

As a global institution, the Society and its lay partners have the ability to take a leadership role in this issue, but up to this point that has not happened. The Society's best effort in the discussion is the 1999 publication of "We Live in a Broken World" but it seems to have had little impact on the situation.

Some of the ecological movements that are active today tend to be so centered in nature that they are "pantheistic." The Society's active involvment in the ecology would also add a Christian dimension to the discussion.

These challenges to the environment go far beyond the effects to the natural world around us to something much deeper - they affect the poor. In 1993, the documents of GC 34 put it clearly:

“Unscrupulous exploitation of natural resources and the environment degrades the quality of life; it destroys cultures and sinks the poor in misery” (GC34, Decree 3, nº9).

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