Theological Imaginings: Mercy and the Degradation of Earth
Carmody Grey (GB Institute): 'Ecological Mercy'

Q. Why is care for the environment to be understood as a work of mercy?

God’s fundamental orientation to what he has made is mercy

Francis says – in the title of his first book – ‘the name of God is mercy’.   Francis says mercy is God’s ‘name’, and a ‘name’ is a relational term: it is not a concept or attribute, but the way in which someone is known to us, the way in which someone offers themselves to us, indicates that they want to enter into relationship with us.  Mercy is the character of God’s relationship with what God has made.

Care for the Environment is a work of mercy

Pope Francis has proposed that care for the environment is one of the ‘works of mercy’. 

There is one very obvious reason why this is.  The way we treat the environment is really just an extension of the way we treat others, because all people depend on the environment.  The way we treat the environment is the way we treat other people.  These aren’t two self-contained compartments of ethical action: they are the same sphere.  God gave the earth to all people equally.  Restoring that original justice is a work of mercy. 

But we don’t only lament ecological devastation because of its terrible impact on the poorest people.  There’s something else going on...

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Spanish translation using DeepL Translator. Traducción al español con DeepL Translator

Dr Carmody Grey is Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University.  She works mainly in the areas of philosophical theology and theological ethics, with a focus on science, nature and environment.  Carmody has degrees in theology from Trinity College Oxford, King’s College Cambridge and the University of Nottingham, as well as a postgraduate degree in conservation biology from Edinburgh. She has worked on national and international conservation projects, teaches and speaks publicly in a variety of arenas, is a columnist for The Tablet, and sits on the Advisory Board of Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, Oxford).

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