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Friday, 9 December 2011

Vincent Nichols: To succeed, we must accept our history, spirituality and a need to care for others

Increasingly we have to pay attention to the inter-relatedness and fragility of so many facets of the ecological systems of the world around us. This ecology demands our understanding and respect. In some ways we have to learn to obey the demands of the environment and not imagine that it is ours to do with as we please. Of course we have to use nature creatively, but when we exploit it wrongly we compound the difficulties we face.
The human person too has an ecology which has to be understood, respected and obeyed if we are not to compound our problems and create crises in our humanity when we think we are doing no more than taking what is our due.
We are both relational and individual beings. This is the ecology in which we flourish. The tension between our relational characteristics and our individuality also lies at the root of many ethical questions: do I behave so as to satisfy my deepest individuality – "doing my own thing" – or do I bear in mind most of all the effect on others of my actions?
The struggle to manage this dilemma is dependent on a clear sense that there are principles and norms of behaviour which bind us together, which we share because of our nature, which have an objective quality to them. When we search for those norms, through the light of revelation and the use of reason, we are better equipped to find the way of action which most sustains our true freedom and growth together.
The second truth about our ecology is that we are both spiritual and corporeal: every human person is both "embodied spirit" and "spiritualised body". In many ways this may seem obvious, but there are voices today that deny totally the reality of the spiritual, insisting that experiences of beauty and love, sooner or later, will be fully explained by physical actions and reactions within the human body. Other voices minimise the relationship between body and spirit to such an extent that the bodily reality, and the satisfaction of its needs, is all that really matters. And the converse is true, too: there are some who so minimise the requirements of our bodily nature that the spiritual – or relational – reality alone gives meaning and validity to their actions. But we are inseparably body and soul, and the quest for truth must always keep this relationship in balance if our ecology is to be preserved. Read more...

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