I’ve just had a few days of my summer break and as I drove back I visited the great Aquarium at Monterey. It is an amazing place but being summer it was very busy. As I went around seeing marvel after marvel of the oceans’ flora and fauna I was struck by the incredible variety of form, size, coloring, texture, etc.; even the ugly moray eels have a brutish beauty to them! But as you progress through the exhibits you become aware of how fragile these eco-systems are.
One of the horrors of the pollution of the waters we cause is the amount of un-biodegradable plastic that is floating on it. Each of the five great oceans (N&S Pacific, N&S Atlantic and the Indian) has a gyrating current that flows to the middle. In the North Pacific Ocean this gyra already has surface pollution the size of the country of Wales! But that is only the surface pollution. The real and hidden problem is the billions of tons of small bits of plastic which float under the surface to depth of about 15 feet. These little bits are the result of physical rather than biodegradable breakup and it is estimated that 40% of that is caused by fish, turtles, seals and birds trying to eat the plastic and spitting it out, having swallowed some. This goes into the food chain. Nearly all the fish stocks we glean (and decimate) from the sea show evidence of plastic. This is a dreadful and sinful mistreatment of nature.
This has got me thinking about what we can do in the parish to respond to Pope Francis’s call in Laudato Sí to understand how we can, in our own little way, reduce our negative impact on the environment. This is part of stewardship. When in the creation story we were called to have dominion over all creatures, it was not in the sense of domination, power, tyranny, but rather of good stewardship, co-creativity, care and protection. The Church is not a climate change denier and is a world leader on the call to take care of the environment. We must start locally and think globally on these matters. This is at the heart of what it means to be the high point of God’s creation. If we are made in his image and likeness then we must be co-creators not destroyers of God’s creation. Being human means, in part, to take care of everything and everyone.
May God bless you, your families, and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter