Canada: Bishop speaks on oil sands eco-harm as a harm to the sensing of God’s existence

Bishop Luc Bouchard says in a pastoral letter posted to the website of
the Diocese of St. Paul that the Earth is a gift that, undamaged,
allows people to sense God’s existence. “Therefore, even great
financial gain does not justify serious harm to the environment.”
Oilsands developments threaten the natural order on an overwhelming
scale, he writes. They destroy large tracts of boreal forest, pollute
the water, and will soon contribute far more carbon dioxide to the
environment than all of Canada’s passenger cars combined, he says.

“Any one of the above destructive effects provokes moral concern, but
it is when the damaging effects are all added together that the moral
legitimacy of oilsands production is challenged.” While efforts may be
made to reduce these environmental effects, simply trying doesn’t cut
it, Bouchard continues. “The moral problem does not lie in government
and industry’s lack of a sincere desire to find a solution; the moral
problem lies in their racing ahead and aggressively expanding the
oilsands industry despite the fact that serious environmental problems
remain unsolved after more than 40 years of ongoing research,” the
letter says. “The moral question has been left to market forces and
self-regulation to resolve, when what is urgently required is moral
vision and leadership.” It is important that the church’s voice be
heard when it comes to the environment, Bouchard said in an interview.

“It’s a serious issue, and so we cannot continue to destroy without
doing something, it wouldn’t be responsible,” he said. “And that’s a
big challenge, to develop without destroying.” His research came from
environmental groups, the Alberta energy department and even
sustainability reports from the oilsands companies themselves. Copies
of the letter were mailed to provincial politicians for the region, as
well as Premier Ed Stelmach, said Bouchard. The letter will be looked
at and its solutions considered, said Jason Cobb, assistant director
of communications for Alberta Environment. “(Bouchard) certainly is
entitled to his opinion, as is anybody,” Cobb said.

“But really, when
it comes down to it, we recognize that all industrial growth has an
impact and every effort is being made to balance, in particular
oilsands, development with environmental protection.” Bouchard quotes
Pope Benedict’s 2007 stance that “disregard for the environment always
harms human co-existence and vice versa.” Bouchard says he’s only
echoing over 40 pastoral letters written around the world addressing
“the deteriorating quality of the world’s air, water, climate and
food.” Bouchard, whose diocese covers nearly 55,000 Catholics, has
also written pastoral letters on a number of other political issues,
including legalized gambling in the

To keep this blog going it has to keep growing! It needs to reach as
many people as possible as quickly possible if it is to endure so
please often click below to: email, repost, share this…

Leave a comment

Your comment