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As we wait for news of the path that Hurricane Dorian will take today, praying that the report of the strength now of the storm as a “category 5” as it approaches the Bahamas will change, I read a passage from Laudato si, (On Care for our Common Home), the extraordinary treatise on creation and climate change by Pope Francis. It is without doubt “a cautionary tale” and it calls each of us to action, hoping it is not too late. Let us ponder his words.

67. We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28) has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature.

This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.

The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15).”Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.