3.1.1 Introduction to Unit 3

Unit 3 Contents




The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.

(Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2010, #2)


Are you ‘green’?  Or are you perhaps a ‘climate change sceptic’?  If you are part of a local church, what about your church?  Are issues to do with ecology addressed there?

Have you heard of Christian Ecology Link (CEL), a campaigning organisation in the UK established in 1982?  Look at an article in their magazine headed, ‘Eight ways to live gently on the earth’.


Reading  (1p)

‘Eight ways to live gently on the earth’

From Green Christian, 59 (Winter 2005), p.17


How do you react to these ‘gentle’ ways of living on this planet?  Do you do almost none of these, or most of them?  Do you applaud them or does reading them annoy you?  Do you think they are necessary or unnecessary?  Do you think they are easy or difficult?



On a sheet of paper, write down a short history of your own attitudes to ‘the environment’ during your life so far, and any kinds of action you have taken out of ecological concern.

There is no response on screen to this exercise.


Learning outcomes for Unit 3

By the end of this unit, you will be able

  • to outline some contrasting explanations of ecological crisis
  • to summarise Christian understanding of what it means that humans are made ‘in the image of God’
  • to name the main statements of CST about ecological responsibility
  • to engage in discussion about strengths and weaknesses of CST statements on ecology and about how to act in light of them.

In the last part of Unit 2 (2.3.1 and 2.3.2), I introduced the ‘see, judge, act’ method and its development into the ‘pastoral spiral’.

I said that one way in which the pastoral spiral would be important for the module is that each of units 3 to 7 is structured, more or less, on the basis of it.

In light of this, we have already begun this unit with a focus on your experience.   The order of the topics we’ll look at is as follows:

Parts 1 and 2     History / Evidence

(Second stage in spiral: social/historical analysis of issue)

Parts 3 and 4     Theology and Statements of CST

(Third stage: theological reflection)

Part 5                 Assessment / Action

(Third stage continued and fourth stage: action)

There is no papal encyclical (yet) that addresses ecological issues as its main subject, so in this unit we have to draw on a wider range of Church documents than in some others.




End of 3.1.1

Go to 3.1.2 Looking again at Unit 2’s historical outline

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