On Sunday, April 22, America commemorates Earth Day. On the first Earth Day in 1970, Americans celebrated clean air, land, and water, which were quickly disappearing from our communities and horizons. The noise from millions of participating Americans contributed to passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and to President Nixon establishing the Environmental Protection Agency.

Care for Creation is a core principle of Catholic social teaching: “Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).

Caring for the earth is a requirement of our faith because of gratitude for the gift God gave us; we cannot mar God’s gift to us but steward it and care for it.

Press the pause button on the busyness that fills our lives; take a moment to see, to really see God’s handiwork in all of creation. Creation is a gift from God, the Creator. We can show respect for the Creator by caring for all of his creation. “As stewards called by God to share the responsibility for the future of the earth, we should work for a world in which people respect and protect all of creation and seek to live simply in harmony with it for the sake of future generations” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 2007, 54).

Everything is connected. “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, no. 91).

Life and Dignity of the Human Person is the foundational principle of our faith, upon which Care for Creation sits firmly rooted. Creation does not stop with the maple tree or the hummingbird; it includes all life in health, in sickness, in utero. Creation does not stop with the unborn or the elderly woman in a grocery store; it includes all of creation: the first star in the evening sky, the lily-white trillium, a rolling river. God’s handiwork is in all of creation. Can we see it? Isn’t this exciting?

Catholics are called to protect human life and care for creation. Catholics are called to care for creation and protect human life.

Nearly one billion people, one in eight, lack access to safe water supplies.

Three and a half million people die each year from water-related disease.

One child dies from a water-related disease every 20 seconds.

Since Roe v Wade, nearly 55 million children have died by abortion since it passed. Each abortion was legal; each child was innocent.

The unborn, infants and young children are more sensitive than adults to toxins, that fetus and newborn are subject to contaminants in greater concentration, and that “Children, inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment” (USCCB).

We have a moral imperative to care for all creation: life and earth. Everything is connected.

Cato is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Portland. Fr. Libra directs pro-life activities for the archdiocese and is pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.