When I consider the critical state of world affairs and the problem of environmental pollution on the earth, I feel uneasy about the future. Some Christian denominations are actively preaching on the streets that the end of the world is approaching, that judgment is imminent, and so on. Is that the case? What does the Catholic Church think about this?
As you rightly stated the modern world is filled with insecurity, not to mention the devastation of nature by nuclear and chemical arms within nations menaced by war. Even in Japan, which is said to be a nation of peace and serenity, people imbued with a mindset of economic supremacy and a consumer civilization devour resources meant to be the mutual assets of mankind, they pollute the oceans and atmosphere, and persist in destroying the natural environment. If this state of affairs continues the succeeding generations will be forced to take the fall, to the extent that the survival of mankind might be affected.
However, that does not mean that it is proper on our part to promote a sort of apocalyptic literature, warning us that the end of the world is looming, that the world has been condemned and so on, similar to the apocalyptic literature of the past that was prevalent in the Jewish world. The Gospels are supposed to be “good news.” It is not in the spirit of the Gospels to intimidate people, by speaking of the judgment that will come upon them after death.
Those who have been called by the Gospel of Christ to work for the building up of the kingdom of God, need to ask that everything in this world, inclusive of both human society and the natural environment, be subject to the rule of his love, and we need to do everything in our power, no matter how little it be, to achieve this. This is because the salvation of mankind is inseparable from the “salvation of the world.” However, Christian faith of that time believed that through the saving work of Almighty God, regardless of all the sins and faults of mankind, human history would not finally end in ruin, but in the triumph of God’s grace. Those who truly believe in the Gospel of Christ must not lose this faith and optimism, in the midst of any crisis situation in the world.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a promise that the history of the world will ultimately end in the triumph of God’s love. As it anticipates the new Creation, it is therefore a guarantee of hope for us. No matter what misery exists in this world, no matter what wounds or distortions stem from human sin, Christians believe that God himself has borne them through the cross of Jesus, and he will heal them. We believe the event of the resurrection of Jesus is the public announcement of this divine promise, and the beginning of the new creation of heaven and earth.