First-World Entitlement Lifestyle Blinding Women to Commitment to Fight Poverty, Nuns Warn

(Photo: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed)Catholic pilgrims attend mass at John the Baptist Church near the baptism site along the Jordan River, January 8, 2016.

Roman Catholic nuns are warning that the security of "first-world entitlements" is getting in the way of the women's commitment to fight poverty and environmental destruction.

U.S. St. Joseph Sr. Carol Zinn addressed 900 women representing nearly 500,000 sisters globally at the International Union of Superiors General gathering, cautioning them against accepting the "entitlement creep" of the first-world, the Global Sisters Report said.

Zinn noted that some of the major benefits of living in the first-world include opportunities for higher education and job and housing security, but warned that they "can create a numbness of consciences and a blindness of heart through which we can easily see not the pain, but see what we want to see."

The head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said that helping people in poverty and protecting the environment from destruction are some of the most important missions women can undertake.

"How can we be present enough to the reality of our Earth today so that our hearts are broken?" Zinn asked. "It's so easy for us to avoid the reality ... because the reality oftentimes stands before us, and we do not see it for what it is, and so we are unable to respond to it."

"The entire world, the entire planet, every species on the planet needs you right now," the St. Joseph sister added.

Maltese Sr. Carmen Sammut, UISG president and the general superior of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, added that there needs to be a joint commitment by women religious to work together on such issues.

"The commitment to global solidarity is also a most beautiful and complex enterprise which needs patience, solidarity and skill," Sammut said. "And like all weaving, it starts with one stitch and goes on."

The UISG meeting gathered women from five continents, and was translated into 11 different languages, including Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese. Many of the remarks were centered on Pope Francis' Laudato si' encyclical, which called on Christians around the world to get engaged in the battle against climate change and world poverty, which he said are connected.

Back in April, Francis celebrated Earth Day at the Vatican, and called on all people "to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the Earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated."

"The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation within the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of our brothers, also of future generations," the Catholic Church leader said.