Archbishop Dermot Clifford issues Pastoral Letter on the Environment

07 Mar 2003


Issued by the Catholic Communications Office on behalf of

Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly

Strictly embargoed until 6.00pm on Saturday 8 March 2003



The Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, issued a Pastoral Letter on the
Environment this weekend.

The Pastoral Letter is entitled “The whole of creation is groaning…” (taken from
Chapter 8 Verse 19 of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “The whole of creation groans
with pain and awaits its transformation”).

In the course of his Lenten Pastoral, Archbishop Clifford makes the following points:

• Perhaps, with the coming of spring, we might slow down, take time to admire
nature as it renews itself….Lent gives us an opportunity to be in step with
nature as we renew our spiritual lives. The renewal of nature and the spiritual
renewal can go hand-in-hand.

• The Book of Genesis tells us that when God had completed his creation: “God
saw all he had made and indeed it was very good”
. God appointed Adam and Eve
to be the stewards of his creation. Man and woman were to care for the earth
with wisdom and love. They were not the absolute owners; they were stewards
to carry out the Creator’s will. One wonders how the Creator would assess our
overall performance as stewards.

• It is certain that the generations in the last century…tended to behave more
like tyrants than stewards. In their greed to exploit God’s gifts they showed
a callous disregard for the balance and harmony which govern nature and a similar
lack of concern for future generations…..Thankfully, the younger generation of
today are far more sensitive to the delicate workings of nature.

• Much of the destruction of non-renewable natural resources is done in the name
of progress. But it will have long-term effects on our own and on future generations.
The indiscriminate application of advances in science and technology, in industry
and agriculture, is producing very harmful effects.

• The privileged few from the First World continue to accumulate excess goods,
squander resources and the poor of the Third World, together with their environment
and habitats, will be among the victims. But the effects of changes in climate and,
indeed, of other forms of destruction of the environment are rarely confined to one
country or one continent even.

• At first sight, it might seem that water is in such plentiful supply that we in
Ireland have no need to be concerned. There is no shortage of rain, we have water
on tap and it doesn’t cost us a cent! The question, however, is this. How clean
is our drinking water? If it is up to standard all round how do you account for
the fact that 110 million litres of bottled water were bought in this country last

• It might be possible to initiate a competition for environmental maintenance
similar to the Tidy Towns competition. Parish rivalry might act as a spur….Perhaps
some of the farming organizations might consider this idea. I am ready to lend a

• Pope John Paul II has called for an “ecological conversion”. This means a
radical reassessment of our way of life…This Lent, we might do an examination of
conscience on our use or misuse of God’s gifts of creation which we have been given.
Are we good stewards or have we been careless and wasteful?

• The joy of Christ’s Resurrection is expressed in the Easter Alleluia. Humanity
will share in Christ’s victory over sin and death. But will the earth not also
share in this victory? Since the earth took part in the sin of humanity, it will
share in God’s final act of Redemption.

Click here for the full text of the Pastoral Letter.

7 March 2003

Further information:
Fr Martin Clarke: 087 220 8044
Ms Brenda Drumm: 087 233 7797