Environmental protection should be in canon law

Environmental protection is an issue the Vatican’s former top legal advisor says should be included in canon law.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, says caring for the environment is “one of the most serious duties” for the faithful today.

Christians should not only “not harm” but “improve” the environment, he says. The new canon would be dedicated to this “grave duty.”

The canons which Coccopalmerio suggests amending address general obligations for Catholics relating to the practice of the faith and maintaining communion with the Church.

These canons do not address specific moral obligations or particular doctrinal teachings.

Coccopalmerio suggests asking Pope Francis “on behalf of the dicastery for legislative texts” to amend the law.

Inspired by Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment (Laudato si’) and his recent address to CEOs of major oil and gas companies, Coccopalmerio made the proposal during an event earlier this month in Rome.

The event was entitled “Dialogue on Catholic Investments for the Energy Transition.”

Participants highlighted the importance of pursuing ethical investment strategies in line with the social doctrine of the Church.

Francis has often expressed his environmental concerns. In his message on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2016, he said maintaining our common home ought to be considered a work of mercy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the Christian calling to respect and protect the earth.

However, some canonists have raised concern about the cardinal’s proposal.

On Twitter, canonist Edward Peters called it “a trivialisation of canon law.”


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