Pope Benedict recognises the interconnectedness of our actions - if we mistreat the natural world we mistreat ourselves, because everything is bound to everything else. He links nature not only to the environment but to "human ecology"; all of our relationships speak of the moral tenor of society, we cannot distinguish one from the other. He stresses that our lifestyles speak of our mental and moral state and hedonism, consumerism and disregard for other life can - and does - have harmful consequences for all. He urges the Church to assert her responsibility in the public sphere and defend the natural world, linking environmental stewardship to protecting mankind from self-destruction.
This is an encyclical that firmly places care for the natural world at the heart of Catholic teaching and action. No longer is concern for the earth something that is only of interest to "greenies", if you are a Catholic then you care about the world around you because it is fundamentally related to justice, peace and human development. Development of the human person in charity and truth now includes a deep concern for the gift of creation.