Ikenna presents an erudite and orderly study of Catholic environmental teachings, with an emphasis on how these teachings can be applied to the nation of Nigeria.
The author opens with a discussion of the papal encyclicals, which he repeatedly refers to throughout the work, in addition to Synod documents, Episcopal letters, and other official church teachings. Ikenna introduces both the primacy of creation and a call for respect for human life as foundational for approaching environmentalism. In fact, at its heart, Ikenna notes that the environment is an ethical issue and should be seen as such by the church, society, and individuals. With this background, he points out the four most pressing types of pollution in Nigeria: soil, water, air, and, somewhat surprisingly, noise. He thoroughly documents the causes of these issues (ranging from industrial waste to poor agricultural practices) and looks closely at the ways the challenges to Nigeria’s environment also cause spiritual, economic, political, cultural, and health problems. Ikenna describes potential pastoral responses to these environmental crises, including the fostering of individual commitments to the environment, better education, and an integration of science and faith. Interestingly, he uses Asia as a case study in how the church can best aid people in curbing various types of pollution. Throughout this work, the author takes an academic approach, incorporating a wide range of studies, facts and figures, and citations from various authors. His level of intellectualism, however, does push the book toward the realm of specialists. It’s hard to imagine the average reader handling such sentences as, “The Christian view continues to hold that the human person is ontologically and axiologically different from other creatures in a biotic unity of differentiated value.” Despite the book’s less-than-approachable characteristics, it will prove thought-provoking for Catholic theologians and activists.
A commendable study geared toward specialists.