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8-Misc: Pope critical on globalization and GE

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TITLE:  Earth is entrusted to man's use, not abuse
SOURCE: L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican
DATE:   November 22, 2000

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Earth is entrusted to man's use, not abuse

Holy Father addresses participants in programme organized for Jubilee of 
the Agricultural World

On Saturday evening, 11 November, farmers and representatives of 
agricultural institutions from the five continents gathered with the Holy 
Father in the Paul VI Hall for a programme of music, song, testimonies, 
reflections and prayer as part of the Jubilee of the Agricultural World. 
The Pope reminded the participants that the earth belongs to God. 
Therefore, human dominion over the world does "not make man the absolute 
arbiter of the earth's governance, but the Creator's "co-worker': a 
stupendous mission, but one which is also marked by precise boundaries that 
can never be transgressed with impunity".

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address, which was given in 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to be able to meet you on the occasion of the Jubilee of 
the Agricultural World, for this moment of celebration and reflection on 
the present state of this important sector of life and the economy, as well 
as on the ethical and social perspectives that concern it. I thank Cardinal 
Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, for his kind words expressing the 
sentiments and expectations of all those present. I respectfully greet the 
dignitaries, including those of different religious backgrounds who are 
representing various organizations and are present this evening to offer us 
the contribution of their testimony.

2. The Jubilee of farmers coincides with the traditional "Thanksgiving Day" 
promoted in Italy by the praiseworthy Confederation of Farmers, to whom I 
extend my most cordial greetings. This "Day" makes a strong appeal to the 
perennial values cherished by the agricultural world, particularly to its 
marked religious sense. To give thanks is to glorify God who created the 
land and its produce, to God who saw that it was "good" (Gn 1: 12) and 
entrusted it to man for wise and industrious safekeeping.

The Church's contribution is one of Gospel witness

Dear men and women of the agricultural world, you are entrusted with the 
task of making the earth fruitful. A most important task, whose urgent need 
today is becoming ever more apparent. The area where you work is usually 
called the "primary sector" by economic science. On the world economic 
scene, your sector varies considerably, in comparison to others, according 
to continent and nation. But whatever the cost in economic terms, plain 
good sense is enough to highlight its real "primacy" with respect to vital 
human needs. When this sector is underappreciated or mistreated, the 
consequences for life, health and ecological balance are always serious and 
usually difficult to remedy, at least in the short term.

3. The Church has always had special regard for this area of work, which 
has also been expressed in important magisterial documents. How could we 
forget, in this respect, Bl. John XXIII's Mater et Magistra? At the time he 
put his "finger on the wound", so to speak, denouncing the problems that 
were unfortunately making agriculture a "depressed sector" in those years, 
regarding both "labour productivity" and "the standard of living of farm 
populations" (cf. ibid., nn. 123-124). In the time between Mater et 
Magistra and our day, it certainly cannot be said that these problems have 
been solved. Rather it should be noted that there are others in addition, 
in the framework of new problems stemming from the globalization of the 
economy and the worsening of the "ecological question".

4. The Church obviously has no "technical" solutions to offer. Her 
contribution is at the level of Gospel witness and is expressed in 
proposing the spiritual values that give meaning to life and guidance for 
practical decisions, including at the level of work and the economy.

Without doubt, the most important value at stake when we look at the earth 
and at those who work is the principle that brings the earth back to her 
Creator: the earth belongs to God! It must therefore be treated according 
to his law. If, with regard to natural resources, especially under the 
pressure of industrialization, an irresponsible culture of "dominion" has 
been reinforced with devastating ecological consequences, this certainly 
does not correspond to God's plan. "Fill the earth and subdue it; and have 
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air" (Gn 1: 
28). These famous words of Genesis entrust the earth to man's use, not 

They do not make man the absolute arbiter of the earth's governance, but 
the Creator's "co-worker": a stupendous mission, but one which is also 
marked by precise boundaries that can never be transgressed with impunity.

Everyone has the right to live off the fruits of the earth

This is a principle to be remembered in agricultural production itself, 
whenever there is a question of its advance through the application of 
biotechnologies, which cannot be evaluated solely on the basis of immediate 
economic interests. They must be submitted beforehand to rigorous 
scientific and ethical examination, to prevent them from becoming 
disastrous for human health and the future of the earth.

5. The fact that the earth belongs constitutively to God is also the basis 
of the principle, so dear to the Church's social teaching, of the universal 
destination of the earth's goods (cf. Centesimus annus, n. 6). What God has 
given man, he has given with the heart of a father who cares for his 
children, no one excluded. God's earth is therefore also man's earth and 
that of all mankind! This certainly does not imply the illegitimacy of the 
right to property, but demands a conception of it and its consequent 
regulation which will safeguard and further its intrinsic "social function" 
(cf. Mater et Magistra, n. 111; Populorum progressio, n. 23).

Every person, every people, has the right to live off the fruits of the 
earth. At the beginning of the new millennium, it is an intolerable scandal 
that so many people are still reduced to hunger and live in conditions 
unworthy of man. We can no longer limit ourselves to academic reflections: 
we must rid humanity of this disgrace through appropriate political and 
economic decisions with a global scope. As I wrote in my Message to the 
Director-General of the FAO on the occasion of World Food Day, it is 
necessary "to uproot the causes of hunger and malnutrition" (cf. 
L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 November 2000, p. 3). As is widely 
known, this situation has a variety of causes. Among the most absurd are 
the frequent conflicts within States, which are often true wars of the 
poor. And there remains the burdensome legacy of an often unjust 
distribution of wealth in individual nations and at the world level.

6. This is an aspect which the celebration of the Jubilee brings precisely 
to our special attention. For the original institution of the Jubilee, as 
it is formulated in the Bible, was aimed at re-establishing equality among 
the children of Israel also by restoring property, so that the poorest 
people could pick themselves up again and everyone could experience, 
including at the level of a dignified life, the joy of belonging to the one 
people of God.

Our Jubilee, 2,000 years after Christ's birth, must also bear this sign of 
universal brotherhood. It represents a message that is addressed not only 
to believers, but to all people of good will, so that they will be 
resolved, in their economic decisions, to abandon the logic of sheer 
advantage and combine legitimate "profit" with the value and practice of 
solidarity. As I have said on other occasions, we need a globalization of 
solidarity, which in turn presupposes a "culture of solidarity" that must 
flourish in every heart.

The duty of fraternal sharing must be taught

7. Thus, while we never cease to urge the public authorities, the great 
economic powers and the most influential institutions to move in this 
direction, we must be convinced that there is a "conversion" that involves 
us all personally. We must start with ourselves. For this reason, in the 
Encyclical Centesimus annus, along with the discussions of the ecological 
question, I pointed to the urgent need for a "human ecology". This concept 
is meant to recall that "not only has God given the earth to man, who must 
use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to 
him, but man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the 
natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed" (Centesimus 
annus, n. 38). If man loses his sense of life and the security of moral 
standards, wandering aimlessly in the fog of indifferentism, no policy will 
be effective for safeguarding both the concerns of nature and those of 
society. Indeed, it is man who can build or destroy, respect or despise, 
share or reject. The great problems posed by the agricultural sector, in 
which you are directly involved, should be faced not only as "technical" or 
"political" problems, but at their root as "moral problems".

8. It is therefore the inescapable responsibility of those who work with 
the name of Christians to give a credible witness in this area. 
Unfortunately, in the countries of the so-called "developed" world an 
irrational consumerism is spreading, a sort of "culture of waste", which is 
becoming a widespread lifestyle. This tendency must be opposed. To teach a 
use of goods which never forgets either the limits of available resources 
or the poverty of so many human beings, and which consequently tempers 
one's lifestyle with the duty of fraternal sharing, is a true pedagogical 
challenge and a very far-sighted decision. In this task, the world of those 
who work the land with its tradition of moderation and heritage of wisdom 
accumulated amid much suffering, can make an incomparable contribution.

9. I am therefore very grateful for this "Jubilee" witness, which holds up 
the great values of the agricultural world to the attention of the whole 
Christian community and all society. Follow in the footsteps of your best 
tradition, opening yourselves to all the developments of the technological 
era, but jealously safeguarding the perennial values that characterize you. 
This is also the way to give a hope-filled future to the world of 
agriculture. A hope that is based on God's work, of which the Psalmist 
sings: "You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it (Ps 65: 10).

As I implore this visit from God, source of prosperity and peace for the 
countless families who work in the rural world, I would like to impart an 
Apostolic Blessing to everyone at the end of this meeting.

Before leaving the Pope said to those present:

I would like to thank you for this lovely evening, for the invitation and 
for the beautiful link between the rural, agricultural world and modern 
music. Thanks to everyone for the participation of representatives from all 
the countries; this is the way that the whole universal Church lives and 
celebrates the Jubilee. I wish you a good rest. Tomorrow another great 
celebration awaits you. Let us hope for good weather.


|                   GENET                     |
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