Bishop Christopher Toohey delivered the Annual Rerum Novarum Lecture in Melbourne on 12 October 2006.
Below are some excerpts from this lecture.
We know this Earth as the garden which we have been given to
look after so that it can produce its fruits.
Our belief is that none of this happened by mere chance or accident.
It was by God's will that the earth came to be.
Faith, informed by Divine Revelation, gives us the stance and attitude we should have towards the earth in particular and the Universe in general.
All of it is the work of God's creative action. We live in the space and time of this world by God's choice and gift.
It is given to us on trust to enjoy, to make use of and to manage responsibly.
With the dawn of science and the scientific method four
hundred years ago we found ways to develop technologies to give
us more and more power to use the earth's fruits for our
The power of human reason is also a gift from God, as are all our talents. As such they do not exist in opposition to God's power. In fact they point to the greatness of God and his mysterious plan for the human race. But as our powers increase through scientific and technological advances, our responsibility for the use of those powers in ways that conform with the Divine purpose increases proportionally. As good stewards we must desire to use our powers wisely.
The Earth is a finite resource and the only planet on which we can live. Outside our thin layer of atmosphere is a hostile environment. Considered in this way the Earth is like a space vehicle speeding through the vacuum of space with everything on board needed to sustain life.