Listen: Loving one’s neighbour requires safeguarding the environment – KA chairman

One cannot claim to follow Jesus’ direction to love their neighbour as themselves if they fail to seek to safeguard the environment we all live in, the chairperson of the Interdiocesan Environment Commission Mario Camenzuli maintained.

He was being interviewed by Jes Saliba on 103 Malta’s Heart, with discussion centring on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’. In the encyclical, whose name derives from the Canticle of the Sun by St Francis of Assisi praising God for his creation, the Pope offers a critique of consumerism and unsustainable development and lays out a moral case for addressing environmental degradation and climate change.

Camenzuli emphasised that while Pope Francis is known to be outspoken on such issues, he was nevertheless following on the footsteps of his predecessors, not least Pope Benedict XVI, who had argued that if humanity wanted peace, it needed to protect creation.

Laudato si’, he argued “puts into perspective how we need to view the world around us.”

But he highlighted that the encyclical went beyond purely environmental issues, delving into the need for an integral ecology: “a concept that ties together our relation to God the creator, to ourselves, to our neighbours and to our creation.”

It was with this in mind that safeguarding the environment became a moral obligation.

“You cannot simply donate to charity whilst disregarding issues such as air pollution which are affecting the lives of others, if not our own,” Camenzuli emphasised.

The encyclical is subtitled “caring for our common home,” which provides an easy analogy, as the commission’s chairman explained: anyone who shares a home with others would know that they should not trash the place to the detriment of all the residents.

“In the same way, I am obliged to safeguard the earth – the creation – so that others will have the right to live decently,” Camenzuli concluded.