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Women and ecology

This photograph by Ruud Elmendorp shows a group of women who survive thanks to what they collect daily in one of the rubbish dumps just outside Nakuru, Kenya

"What is the relationship between ecology, and women and the Church?” some readers might wonder, looking with amazement at the theme of our April issue. Ecological commitment seems in fact to have to do with politics, major problems such as atomic energy or global warming, rather than with the spiritual and domestic dimension in which women usually move. However, if we look at the effects of pollution we see that those most damaged are the poor, among whom women constitute the majority What is more, it is they who have to contend every day with polluted water, food that has gone bad or is contaminated and the difficulties of raising children in a poisoned environment. It is women in fact who suffer more heavily the consequences of a policy of exploitation of the earth, always and only geared to profit and in which financial benefit counts far more than respect for the environment; it is they who live this situation as a practical experience rather than an ideological issue. If in fact we look at it from the female point of view, ecology is no longer one of the many ideologies that have marked political life in modern times but, rather, a vital need. The awaited Encyclical of Pope Francis on ecology will clarify the relationship between spirituality and the care of the earth that was given and entrusted to us by the Creator for us to respect it, not to make it an object of theft. And without a doubt – knowing the Pope’s attention for the marginalized, it will highlight the pollution-poverty equation which so often escapes the eyes of those who live ecological commitment as an ideology, if not even as a religion of nature. Christians must respect nature also – if not especially – to protect the weak, because they must intervene on every occasion in their defence. And we know that, as always, the weak are largely women. (l.s.)

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Aug. 21, 2019

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