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A simple but powerful book offers a “practical guide to Creation Care Ministry for parishes, dioceses, and religious communities.”

You don’t need a degree in engineering to live greener. And you don’t need to be a theologian to inspire your parish to do likewise. You can do all that (and more) with just a little book that covers pretty much everything there is to cover about the practical application of Catholic ecology.

Greening Your Church: A Practical Guide to Creation Care Ministry for Parishes, Dioceses, and Religious Communities (Novalis, 2014) is a must for anyone wanting to bring eco-action out of the intersection of faith and reason. And given that the Holy Father is about to make ecology a significant concern for the Church by building on his predecessors' teachings, we should all be thinking about how to make our parishes and dioceses examples of what Pope Francis will be telling the world.

Written by Norman Lévesque, head of the Office of Creation Care Ministry in the Diocese of St.-Jean-Longueuil, Canada, Greening Your Church covers a good deal of theology and science—and does so in simple, pastoral terms. All this explains why we should green our churches. Then the book offers practical tips to explain how.

Lévesque also offers a handful of examples of small...

Research by Dr. Erin Lothes helps on the front lines of faith and environmental protection

Does religion help us become better stewards of creation? If so, how? And why do some people of faith embrace this responsibility while others find it harder to connect with climate change as a personal responsibility?

Questions like these are making news in these weeks before the release of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical. They’re also questions that some of my colleagues in government have been asking. Helping to answer them is Dr. Erin Lothes, an assistant professor of theology at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey.

Dr. Lothes has written extensively on the ethics of energy and climate change. She is especially interested in “the inspiration that motivates spiritual Americans who feel the environmental crisis as a sacred loss, and who are re-imagining their faith and life through environmental advocacy.”

She has kindly shared some of her findings and insights, including several from her upcoming book, Inspired Sustainability: From Ideally Green To Really Green (to be published by Orbis Press).

“I have always been someone who found peace and beauty in nature, especially in forests,” Dr. Lothes told CatholicEcology. “When I eventually began to realize how climate change would affect not only the beauty of nature, and the...

An upcoming Vatican gathering seeks to build momentum for the upcoming papal eco-encyclical

With the demands of Holy Week concluded and the expected release of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical about ten weeks away, Vatican officials have doubled down on efforts for preparing “to receive and share” the most anticipated papal encyclical since Paul VI’s Humane Vitae.

The latest development in this pre-encyclical time of preparation is a day-long Vatican workshop on climate change and sustainability. The April 28th event is a collaboration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace.

Titled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity; The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” the gathering is in part a follow up to last May’s conference on sustainable development hosted jointly (and uniquely) by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. At the conclusion of that conference, participants said they hoped for a continuation of the dialog that had begun there.

The April 28th workshop grants that wish.

“A key role for any faith group, especially the Vatican, is that of convener,” said Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the United States-based Catholic Climate Covenant. “Where else can business leaders, the development community, scientists, diplomats...

On Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis announces a Year of Mercy that should elevate the efforts of Catholic ecologists

"Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead." Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Pope Francis announced on Saturday during the First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday that the universal Church will enter into a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Its theme will be "Merciful like the Father" and it will begin on December 8th, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In his Bull of Indiction announcing the Year, Pope Francis tells us why he’s called for this special moment in the life of the Church.

We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme

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Bad [and now corrected] copy editing attributes anti-Church words to me

In one of the sloppiest editing jobs I’ve seen in an international news story, Breitbart confuses me and my quote with someone else—and that someone else is highly critical of Church teachings on life.

Here’s the erroneous paragraph from the original story in Breitbart:

Bill Patenaude, a founding member of the Global Catholic Climate Movement commented “we eagerly join our voices to Pope Francis’s prayer intention for April. And we ask others to join us. And given that issues like climate change can cause division, we especially pray for unity within the Church and a willingness to act.

“We agree with the Pope that over consumption in the developed world needs to be curbed. But we also think that unrestrained population growth in the developing world is an equally pressing problem. In this respect, the Catholic church, with its restrictions on birth control, is one of the greatest threats to effort to protect the environment.” The Global Catholic Climate Movement encourages parishes to organize special holy hours in April.

Notice the lack of a closing quote to end my words? And the lack of an attribution to who is making the quote in the second paragraph?...

If we want to protect the world, we must learn from and speak of the Crucified, Risen Savior of the world.

This Easter Monday, what will we take with us from Holy Week? No matter what our vocation in this fallen world, we cannot forget the history, the lessons, and the liturgical experiences of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. And given the increasingly high profile of the Church’s commitment to ecological causes—especially in light of Pope Francis’s upcoming eco-encyclical—this is especially true for Catholic ecologists.

Palm Sunday

For those of us engaged in worldly vocations, the great lesson from Palm Sunday is that God and the world have different ideas about what salvation looks like. And when the world learns that God’s ways are not our ways, then the world can quickly turn against those who profess loyalty to God.

This Palm Sunday I was thinking of some of my colleagues in government who speak of outreach to faith communities so that whatever message that needs public support can be brought to the public through houses of worship.

But the desire to use faith communities for such purposes does not equate precisely to a respect for religious institutions. Indeed, as we are seeing with the erosion of religious liberties—most recently when it comes to the right...

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.