congregation of the sisters of st joseph of peace
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CSJP Land Ethic: Foundational Principles

1. Earth Is Sacred

Faithful to the joyful proclamation of the book of Genesis (1:31), “God looked over everything made; it was so good, so very good,” we believe: “Earth is a revelation of God and the sustainer of all life. We recognize that the exploitation of Earth’s air, water, soil and species is a sacrilege.” Acts of the 21st General Chapter, p. 18.

We affirm the sacredness of creation and we resolve to live in relationship with the land.  We are called to contemplative action for the flourishing of Earth, to living mindfully in the present moment.  The sacredness of creation also inspires the ways in which we care for our bodies.

 2. Land Has Its Own Intrinsic Value

“Ecosystems ... have an intrinsic value independent of their usefulness. Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself.”  Laudato Si’, 140

For too long we have thought of land as a commodity whose value is determined by its usefulness to humans. Our decision-making now must put the sustainability of ecosystems before financial profit.

3. Earth Is Endangered by Human Activity

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also
reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.” Laudato Si’, 2

Ecological sustainability is one of the most urgent religious and moral challenges of our time.  This challenge calls us to conversion of heart and change in behavior as individuals and community.  These changes may involve significant risk and personal cost to us.

4. Care of Creation, Justice for the Poor and Peace Are Inseparably Connected

“In her own time, Margaret Anna Cusack (Mother Clare) made the connection between the devastation of earth and the victims of famine. ... Recognizing the interdependence of all life, we count among those who are poor all Earth’s creatures whose lives are threatened or diminished.”  Acts of the 21st General Chapter, p. 18

We have a tradition of a special love for people made poor by unjust systems.  We now expand that tradition to embrace the poor of all ecosystems.  Therefore we make decisions based on their impact for the whole community of life, especially the weakest and most marginalized.  The consequences of environmental degradation cause instability among people and fuel violent conflicts.  Care of creation is an essential element of peacemaking.

5. Intergenerational Justice

“The ancient forests have been hewn down with little profit to the spoiler and to the injury in many ways of the native. ... The country which was in ‘God’s keeping’ then has but little improved since it came into the keeping of man.”  Mother Clare, The History of Ireland, Acts of the 21st General Chapter, p 18

We commit ourselves to intergenerational justice – to include in our decision making the needs of future human generations and the future integrity of Earth.  This guides us in challenging structures and practices which are detrimental to Earth and in promoting sustainability. 

Land Ethic - Foundational Principles

"Life and prayer are intertwined, because the natural thing to do is to talk to God, to pray. Nothing is compartmentalized. "

Margaret Dove, CSJP