Respect for the integrity of creation

2415: The seventh commandment [thou shalt not steal] enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

2416: Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

2417: God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. 197 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418: It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

Papal and Vatican Statements

Declaration on the Environment
Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
June 10, 2002.

Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All Creation
Pope John Paul II, World Peace Day, January 1, 1990.

USCCB Statements

Global Climate Change:
A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
June 15, 2001

Renewing the Earth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 14, 1991

Caring for God's Creation Project
A Program for Environmental Justice

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

Regional Statements

The Columbia River Watershed:
Caring for Creation and the Common Good

A Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the Region. 2001.

At Home in the Web of Life:
A Pastoral Message on Sustainable Communities in Appalachia

Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, 1996.

This Land is Home to Me
A Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, 1975

International Statements

What's happening to Our Beautiful Land
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, 1988.

A New Earth: An Environmental Challenge
Australian Bishops Conference, 2002.

The Call of Creation: God's Invitation and the Human Response:
The Natural Environment and Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, 2002.

You Love All That Exists
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003.

Ecumenical Statements

Environmental Racism
United Methodist Church, 2004.

Additional Resources

See Donald Garring's Web Site on the Environment

A Bibliography on Religion and Ecology

Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Committee of Appalachia. This Land is Home to Me.
Webster Springs, WV: Catholic Committee, 1975.  

Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, At Home in the Web of Life.
Webster Springs: WV: Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, 1995.

Christiansen, D. and Grazer, W. And God Saw That It Was Good.
Washington, DC: USCC, 1996. 

Chryssavgis, J. Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer:
The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch, Bartholomew I.
Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003. 

Henriot, Peter, J, deBerri, M. and Schultheis, M. Catholic Social Teaching:
Our Best Kept Secret
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988. 

Himes, Michael J and Himes, Kenneth R. “The Sacrament of Creation:
Toward an Environmental Theology.”
117 (26 January 1990): 42-49. 

Keenan, Marjorie, Ed. From Stockholm to Johannesburg:
A Historical Overview of the Concern of the Holy See for the Environment, 1972-2002.

Vatican City: Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2002. 

USCC. Renewing the Earth:
An Invitation to reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching.
Washington, DC: USCC, 1992. 2.   

USCC. Renewing the Face of the Earth:
A Resource for Parishes.
Washington, DC: USCC, 1995. 

USCC. Global Climate Change:
A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good.
Washington, DC: USCC, 2001. 

International Catholic Perspectives 

John Paul II. The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility.
Washington, DC: USCC, 1990.

Australian Bishops Conference.  A New Earth: The Environmental Challenge.
Sydney, Australia: Australian Bishops Conference, 2002. 

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. You Love All Things That Exist:
A Pastoral Letter on the Christian Ecological Imperative
Ontario, Canada: CCCB, 2003. 

Catholic Conference of the Philippines. What’s Happening to Our Beautiful Land.
Tagaytay, Philippines. CBCP, 1988. 

Catholic Bishops of the Region. Columbia River Watershed:
Caring for Creation and the Common Good
Seattle, Washington: Washington State Catholic Conference.

Also See:  

John Paul II and Bartholomew I. Declaration on the Environment. Available at

Ecumenical Perspectives 

Barnhill, David and Gottlieb, Roger, eds. Deep Ecology and World Religions:
New Essays on Sacred Grounds
Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2001.

Barnhill, David L, et al. Buddhism and Ecology:
The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for World Religions, 1998.

Boff, Leonardo. Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997.

Boff, Leonardo. Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995. 

Edwards, Dennis. Ecology at the Heart of Faith.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2006. 

Edwards, Dennis.  Jesus the Wisdom of God:
An Ecological Theology.

Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005. 

Gottlieb, Roger. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Hessel, Dieter T., ed. Theology for Earth Community:
A Field Guide.
Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003.  

Hessel, D and Reuther, M. Christianity and Ecology:
Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 2000. 

Habito, Ruben L. F. Healing Breath: Zen Spirituality for a Wounded Earth.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993. 

Lodge, David and Hamlin, Christopher, eds. Religion and the New Ecology:
Environmental Responsibility in a World in Flux.
South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006. 

Martin-Schramm, James & Stivers, Robert. Christian Environmental Ethics:
A Case Method Approach.

Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2003. 

McDaniel, Jay B.  With Roots and Wings:
Christianity in an Age of Ecology and Dialogue.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995. 

Ruether, Rosemary Radford, ed.  Women Healing Earth:
Third-World Women on Ecology, Feminism and Religion.

Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. 

Swimme, Brian, ed. The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos:
Humanity and the New Story.

Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999. 

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. ed. Judaism and Ecology:
Created World and Revealed Word

Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 2003. 

Tucker, Mary Evelyn. Worldly Wonder:
Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase.
Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing, 2007. 

Tucker, Mary Evelyn and Grim, John, eds. Worldviews and Ecology:
Religion, Philosophy, and the Environment.

Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994.

Waldau, P. & Patton, K. A Communion of Subjects:
Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics.

New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. 

Weaver, Jace, ed. Defending Mother Earth:
Native American Perspectives on Environmental Justice.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. 

Webb, Benjamin S., ed.  Fugitive Faith:
Conversations on Spiritual, Environmental, and Community Renewal

Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998.