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Events across the globe will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis while helping the Church help others help creation.

If you'd like to organize your own gathering, check out the Catholic Climate Covenant for excellent resources.

And check out my September column in the Rhode Island Catholic to see what's happening here in Providence. Perhaps you might wish to use it as a model. Events like this are relatively simple to put together and offer a nice blend of faith, reason, church, state, and the necessary information to build up the common good.

Sound good? If so, here's the opening of my column:

Dioceses and religious groups around the United States have increasingly been turning to solar energy, thanks to advances in technology and better financing. We’ve seen this just over the Massachusetts border where a sizeable solar farm is providing clean energy for the Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham.

More recently, a few pastors in the Diocese of Providence, like mine, are seeking solar solutions for their parish operations. And there is preliminary interest within other Catholic circles, too.

To begin explaining how solar energy can work at your parish or your home, the

...

Manila’s Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle opened the “Season of Creation” on September 1st with a Mass celebrated at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Parañaque City. In it, he offered some of the most impassioned environmental words to date by a Prince of the Church.

Indeed, from the archbishop to the archdiocese’s environmental minister Lou Arsenio, to lay faithful, religious, and clerics taking part in the Season, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is making a commanding statement not just in its own nation but very far beyond its borders.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer chronicled the archbishop’s homily, which stressed the Catholic role in environmental appreciation and protection.

“God’s creations should be given importance and not taken for granted,” he said.

“We should be thankful for the sunrise, sunset, flowers, grass and rivers, among others.” He added that “[s]adly, for some people they seem to be ordinary and go unnoticed.”

He said that Filipino Catholics “should be awed and celebrate all creations of God.” Like Pope Francis and his predecessors, the archbishop called for changes in lifestyles so that humanity lives in accord with the laws of nature.

The archbishop then stressed...

@Pontifex: “I pray every day for all who are suffering in Iraq. Please join me.”

Pope Francis sent this Tweet yesterday to engage the sins that we see with the power of prayer that we don’t. He did not demand that we march, sign petitions, or publish lengthy treatises. He simply asked that we turn to our Father for help.

There is nothing wrong with marches, petitions, or treatises. And certainly, the pontiff doesn't expect us to only pray passively in light of the violent sins of others. Activism is necessary for life in our fallen world. But marches, petitions, and what have you are not ends to themselves. Nor are they effective without the credentials of holiness and the grace of God.

With the coming this month of another United Nations conference on climate change and other international and local environmental activities, many in the environmental community—Catholics among them—are gearing up for a worldwide series of climate marches and other events that seek to slow the accelerating erosion of our planet’s ecosystems and its climate.

God bless all these activities and all who sacrifice to make them possible. But I must suggest that those of us...

Planning to comment on EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules—or any environmental rule or proposal, national or local? Then you might want suggestions on doing it really well.

Last week I asked colleagues about what tips might make for better, more helpful, exceptional public comments. I also asked about what commenters should avoid. In all, we came up with 10 tips that can help you help us help the common good.

  1. When it comes to a scientific review, “petitions are meaningless and only create paperwork.” That came from one manager who noted that the review process for an environmental regulatory process is often science-oriented. "It’s not political, so a demonstration of a large group of people opposed to a project is not a factor" when determining the objective, scientific weight of a matter. In general, a letter or petition signed by multiple parties is treated as one letter of comment. Of course, sometimes it is helpful to weigh the frequency of this or that particular comment. But given today’s automated systems for signing and sending petitions and letters, those sorts of submissions don’t carry the bang you expect for the buck of your time.
  2. That said, we do take
  3. ...

“The technological and operational bases for a true sustainable development are available or within reach.”

Those words, from the wrap-up statement of May’s Vatican sustainability conference, pose a challenge. Happily, this challenge has most recently been accepted by two bishops in North American dioceses.

Last week the Bishops of Stockton, California and Ogdensburg, New York announced solar energy projects that will do more than benefit those local churches. They also serve as models for other dioceses to follow.

The back-to-back announcements warranted the use of the social media “hashtag” #BishopsGoneSolar from Brian Roewe of the National Catholic Reporter. The appearance of this hashtag—words that serve as topic identifies in places like Twitter and Facebook, etc—is to me one of many indicators that we witnessing the dawn of a solar revolution in the Catholic Church.

In Stockton, Bishop Stephen Blaire announced that his diocese has joined forces with the Catholic Climate Covenant and Sungevity, a private firm specializing in solar power systems. The partnership allows Sungevity to offer new customers a $750 rebate while splitting an additional $750 between a participating parish, the diocesan Catholic Charities fund, and the Catholic Climate Covenant, which can then...

“Know that the greatest service that man can offer to God is to help convert souls.”

This quote, attributed to St. Rose of Lima, is helpful for Catholic ecologists and for any Christian engaged in worldly affairs. With her feast day today, it seems only right to consider why this soul-saving message is so important—and why it may sound so scandalous to a world busy making things better.

Providentially, this is also the message of an editorial posted yesterday by Carl E. Olson at Catholic World Report. Carl writes that

[t]he Church, as Francis quipped this past June, is “not a well-organised NGO full of pastoral plans.” No, the Church is missionary and it carries out the mission of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the “trinitarian mission” (see CCC, 257)—which is to communicate the divine life to mankind, so that we can, by God's grace, be true children of God.

Now, I know how easy it is to get distracted from this mission. The troubles of the world are legion. If we are not too heavily weighed down by them our response may be to throw everything we have into fixing all that is broken, as...

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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.

The final day of the Vatican Sustainability Conference