Theological Background Details


Stewardship - The Great Barrier Reef

Teacher Background

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is undisputed as one of the world’s most important natural assets. It is the largest natural feature on earth, stretching more than 2300km along the northeast coast of Australia from the northern tip of Queensland to just north of Bundaberg. On August 6th 2004, the seven Queensland Catholic Bishops released a Pastoral Letter on stewardship of the reef entitled, Let the Many Coastlands Be Glad! In this letter the Bishops emphasised a number of important Catholic social teachings:
  • That Christ is at the centre of all creation, calling all Christians to bring it to a state of perfection.
  • Australians have a sacred duty of stewardship in caring for the region.
  • Those who through their actions compromise the health and vitality of creation commit sin.
  • The call of John Paul II to ecological conversion and the living out of ecological vocations whereby an environment is prepared for future generations that comes closer to the plan of the creator.
  • That care for the Great Barrier Reef is a common cause for the common good.
A number of Catholic social teachings directly apply to the sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.

God destined the earth and all it contains for all people and nations, so that all created things would be shared fairly by all humankind under the guidance of justice, tempered by charity.
The Church in the Modern World, #69

The Bible, from the first page on, teaches us that the whole of creation is for humanity, that it is the responsibility of men and women to develop it by intelligent effort and, by means of their labour, to perfect it, so to speak, for their use. If the world is made to furnish each individual with the means of livelihood and the instruments for growth and progress, all people have therefore the right to find in the world what is necessary for them.
On the Development of Peoples, #22

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Statement on the Environment was issued on Social Justice Sunday 2002. An extract appears below.
“The Church hears the cries of the poor and the groans of the earth. It seeks to stand in solidarity with the poor and the marginalised and to exercise good stewardship of the fragile ecosystems that support life on earth. Every day more Christians are becoming aware of their responsibilities as people of faith towards God’s Creation.

This growing awareness is also reflected in the teachings of the Church. Since the late 1980’s, the Pope has been raising social and environmental issues with increasing frequency and intensity in an important contribution to the development of Catholic Social Teaching in our times. These teachings can help us, as individual Christians and as part of a Church community, to accept our responsibility to protect people and the planet.”