The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Stewardship

The Catholic social teaching principle of stewardship – kaitiakitanga – is about being responsible guardians. We are kaitiaki - guardians of the earth. Exercising stewardship is caring for the gifts God has given us, including the environment, our own personal talents and other resources.

Being Responsible Guardians

Exercising stewardship is caring for the gifts that God has given to us, including the environment, our own personal talents and other resources.

We are kaitiaki – guardians of the earth. The integrity of the ecosystems which make up the earth is vital for our survival and for the well-being of future generations.

Everything in creation is given for all people. Understanding our interdependence with all living creatures, we should use God’s gifts responsibly to meet the needs of everyone, now and in the future..

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Searching the Scriptures...

Social Justice teaching is founded on firm scriptural foundations.

  • God saw everything he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
    Genesis 1:31
  • The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
    Genesis 2:15
  • Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.
    Job 12:7-10

...And in the light of Catholic social teaching.

  • ‘Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.'
    Pope Francis: Laudato Si’, (paragraph 159), 2015
  • ‘Our faith and our religious tradition have much to offer the world at this time, including the importance of simplicity, and of learning to give up some things that we want, so others may have what they need. Our understanding that we are stewards of God’s creation, our solidarity with the poor, and our respect for the common good make the issue of environmental justice the responsibility of every person.’
    New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference: Statement on Environmental Justice, 2006
  • ‘We received this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan from future generations, to whom we will have to return it!’
    Pope Francis, Ecuador, July 7, 2015
  • ‘Our earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive.'
    Pope Benedict XVI, July 24, 2007

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Great Examples: Snapshots from Oceania

The following images and captions showcase great examples of stewardship in action. Every one of these examples highlights the importance of caring for creation – starting with our local environment.


People in Kiribati are learning about new
ways of growing vegetables as rising seas
and erratic weather threaten traditional food
supplies and systems.
Image credit: Caritas Kiribati Youth Group

Rangitahi (youth) from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru
reconnect for the first time with their ancestors’
forest of Au Warawara through a waiata of lament
and hope - as part of a generation long project
restoring the forest and its place in the heart of the
Te Rarawa people in the Hokianga, Aotearoa New
Zealand.

Gleno and Wani Filipe are one of many
couples who have passed through Tutu Rural
Training Centre, Fiji, learning about organic
growing, business and relationship skills.

Carteret Islanders, forced to migrate from their
island atolls, are learning the art of agriculture as
they resettle on mainland Bougainville.
Image credit: Tulele Peisa

The Mercy Sisters’ community garden
Papatūānuku Kī Taurangi - Earth Promise in
Ellerslie, Auckland helps people look after the
land and each other, while teaching the lost arts
of growing food and maintaining a healthy soil. In
the foreground Ping and her newphew Felix are
planting garlic as part of a ritual for Matariki - the
beginning of the growing season in Aotearoa.
Image credit: Papatūānuku Kī Taurangi - Earth Promise

Children plant trees as part of Samoa’s ‘2 million trees
planting campaign’ in 2019.
Image credit: Karen Anaya/Caritas Samoa

Members of Kiribati Climate Action Network (KiriCAN)
Plant mangroves to protect their shorelines, create a
habitat for fish and enrich coastal ecosystems on their
low lying atolls.
Image credit: Caritas Australia
 

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Living out CST: Ideas for putting faith into action

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What can we learn about being kaitiaki (guardians) from the examples above?
  • In what way are the examples above connected to the CST principle of stewardship?
  • Are there other Scriptural references which speak to you of stewardship, of our responsibility to care for God’s creation?
  • How can we learn to appreciate the lesson of Genesis that all creation is a gift to all human beings?
  • If ‘our earth is talking to us’ as Pope Benedict describes, what is it saying?
  • How can I link with people in the Pacific who will be most affected by climate change?

Acting in Faith

  • Read and reflect on the case study and questions above.
  • Watch our 2014 Caritas case study demonstrating stewardship.
  • Try to walk or bike to work or school at least once a week to have petrol-free days.
  • Read and reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for our common home, Laudato Si’.
  • Watch this great video from Caritas Australia on stewardship: CST - Stewardship of Creation
  • Reflect on this whakatauki (Māori proverb) as a family: Kia mau tonu ki ngā taonga tapu o ngā mātua tūpuna. Koinei ngā taonga tuku iho, nā te Atua. Hold fast to the treasures of the ancestors. For they are the treasures that have been handed down to us by God.
  • Discuss the connection between us being the stewards of God’s gifts and the issue of climate change. How are we called to respond?
  • Try to use no plastic as a family for a week.
  • Plant a tree in your community and discuss the importance of the words ‘kaitiakitanga’ and ‘guardianship’ in respect to the principle of stewardship.
  • Set up prayer stations based on the seven days of creation in your parish foyer to encourage parishioners to think about how we can all share in the responsibility of caring for God’s world.
  • Learn more about the Season of Creation and how your community can participate.
  • Choose a prayer from the Social Justice Week 2020 resources and use it in your parish liturgy – during Prayer of the Faithful or at the end of Communion.

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Closing Prayers

Creator God, you have made a world that was meant to sustain us with fresh water, land and seas. We pray for the grace to respect and care for your creation.
Leader: E te Ariki...     All: whakarongo mai rā ki a mātou.

Creator God, grant us the grace to end the suffering of those in poverty and bring healing to all parts of your creation that all creatures may be blessed as a sign of your wondrous love.
Leader: E te Ariki...     All: whakarongo mai rā ki a mātou.

Creator God, help us to be sensitive and sacred in walking, watching and wondering, as stewards of your creation. We pray for insight as we fulfil our responsibilities as its caretakers.
Leader: E te Ariki...     All: whakarongo mai rā ki a mātou.

 

Almighty and ever-living God,
e te Ariki, e te Atua ora tonu,
Help us to harness
the wind,
the water,
the sun,
and all the ready and renewable sources of power.
Teach us to conserve,
Preserve,
Use wisely
The blessed treasures of our wealth-stored earth.
Help us to share your bounty,
not to waste it,
or pervert it into peril for our children
or our neighbours
in other nations.
You who are life
And energy
And blessing,
Teach us to revere
And respect
Your tender world.
Amen.

(Adapted from a prayer by Thomas John Carlisle)

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