Over the years, a substantial body of Catholic social teaching has arisen to offer guidance as to the obligations that humanity has as stewards of creation. With ancient roots in Biblical text, and modern exploration in more recent texts, the connection between religious obligation and ecological responsibility has garnered much attention among Catholic thinkers - as well as among religious leaders of other faiths. This article explores the principles of Catholic social thought with respect to the environment and traces the development of those principles from their Biblical origins through the papacy of Pope John Paul II. In tandem with this discussion, the paper also explores the National Environmental Policy Act - the leading secular statement of environmental goals in American law. The paper compares and contrasts the principles of environmental responsibility as found in both Catholic social thought and in the National Environmental Policy Act, and addresses the ways in which they are consistent with each other - and the areas in which they present real tension.
Lucia A. Silecchia, Environmental Ethics from the Perspective of NEPA and Catholic Social Teaching: Ecological Guidance for the 21st Century, 28 WM. & MARY ENVTL. L. & POL’Y REV. 659 (2004).