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Pope Francis released his Lenten message for 2015. What he asks of us will help us be better disciples of Jesus Christ and become better stewards of creation.

The pontiff wishes to focus our Lenten journeys on examining “the globalization of indifference.” This term implies in part what can happen when our choices as consumers and nations affect people so far away that we never see the suffering in their eyes. This globalization of indifference is, the pope says, something that we Christians must confront.

“For whoever is of Christ,” the pontiff tells us, “belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. ‘If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy’ (1 Cor 12:26).”

And so Pope Francis’s Lenten message illuminates the way the universal Church, its dioceses and parishes, and we as individuals can confront, mitigate, and even prevent such suffering. The document is a must-read. It will be a helpful examination of conscience for us all throughout Lent.

Catholics engaged in the ecological arena might wish that Pope Francis had been explicit in his message about...

It all seemed so easy for so long.

Back in the days of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, ideologues thought they knew their allies and their enemies and what our popes would say when they entered the public square. Now it’s anyone’s guess what will happen on any particular day or after any particular press conference with Pope Francis and an open mic.

Some see the confusion that can follow the pontiff's candid words as a precursor to the Apocalypse. Others, like me, see it as a blessing.

Or, better yet, as the work of the Spirit.

“Francis, like any pope worth his salt, is troubling the lazy binary categories of secular American politics,” said Dr. Charles Camosy when I asked him about the recent ideological wailing and gnashing of teeth in the United States. Camosy, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University, is known for his desire to move Catholic conversations away from categories like right, left, liberal, and conservative.

“Many assume that [Pope Francis's] forthcoming encyclical on ecology—which, according to one consultant, was named Domus communis in at least one point in the drafting process—is assumed by many to be ‘liberal.’ But I have...

A day after a coalition of Catholics issued a statement supporting Church concerns over climate change, the game-changing Pope Francis made it clear in his strongest language to date where he stands on the matter.

"I don’t know if all [climate change is man-made], but 'mostly,' for the greater part, it is man who slaps nature in the face continually," the Vatican's official translation notes. The pontiff's statements were in answer to a question by Gerry O’Connell of America magazine.

Making direct references to biodiversity losses and monoculture practices used in agriculture, Pope Francis added "we have exploited nature too much ... when I heard the Brazilian bishops speak of the deforestation of the Amazonia, I ended up understanding well. Amazonia is the lungs of the world."

The pontiff later expressed disappointment in December’s Lima talks and gratitude “that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about" all these issues.

The comments were made on the trip from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, where Pope Francis will be visiting areas and people devastated in 2013 and last month by some of the strongest typhoons on record. The Holy Father’s words today...

When it comes to engaging issues of climate change, there has been a growing desire to unite the individual efforts of Catholics and to encourage the involvement of others. Today that desire was fulfilled with the issuance of a statement “to the Church and the world” from the newly formed Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Made up of a lay, religious, and clergy, this growing global organization hopes to support the Holy See’s efforts, which in part is why we opted to introduce our efforts as Pope Francis opens his visit to the Philippines—a nation that is still recovering from back-to-back super-typhoons in 2013 and last month. When the Holy Father visits areas ravaged by these storms he will be calling to mind what strong storms can do to the weakest among us. And while particular weather events should not be associated with climatological trends, we are hard-pressed to ignore tendencies in odd weather of late throughout the world. Nor can we dismiss that such tendencies align with what happens when a slightly altered composition of the atmosphere triggers it to act differently.

I am blessed to be a founding member of the group. I’ve made some wonderful new...

With so much being said about Pope Francis and ecology, it would be helpful to hear from someone who knows about both faith and science—and about Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Dr. Pablo Canziani of Buenos Aires is one such person.

Dr. Canziani (shown above, left ) is an atmospheric physicist who had been tapped by Cardinal Bergoglio to help the Argentinian Church better engage environmental issues. An active Catholic, he possess a masters and PhD from the University of Buenos Aires. He performed post-doctoral work at the University of Washington in Seattle, working under Dr. James Holton, a leading researcher in climate change. Dr. Canziani is a member of the Argentinian National Research Council and a university professor currently working in applied climate change studies, especially as they impact South America.

He is also a member of the Board of the Lay Department of the Argentinian Conference of Bishops and a member of a newly created network of Argentinian lay citizens. In this latter role he is working on the creation of a professional solidarity group for the environment and development.

Catholic Ecology: Thanks for taking the time to talk about your work in the Church and in science, which...

Chances are you’ve been hearing the many secular reports about Pope Francis’s planned eco-encyclical. Many are claiming that the unreleased document will focus primarily on climate change and political solutions. But you can bet it will be much more nuanced and Catholic.

Sources I’ve spoken with are concerned that because of such misconceptions, 2015 could be a dangerously divisive year for Catholics. They have a point. When reading the recent secular accounts, it’s as if a virtual Church has formed around us—a Church made up of lies, damned lies, and fear.

As people of faith, we know a thing or two from the third chapter of Genesis about the source of lies and fear—and the division that results. We also know the solution: The life, charity, and truth of Christ, which we mirror in our daily attempts to offer charity in truth to those we love and those we find hard to.

And so to keep things calm when it comes to Catholics and ecology, the following is offered to help conversations stay civil and constructive.

To be Catholic means to appreciate nature

There’s a bit of a false “either-or” proposition going around. It suggests that...


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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.