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It’s a delight to have one of my favorite contemporary theologians and authors offer his thoughts on faith, nature, relationships, and much more.

Dr. David Cloutier is a professor of theology at Mount St. Mary's University. He teaches moral theology, Catholic social ethics, and marriage and sexual ethics. A prolific writer, he is the author of Love, Reason, and God’s Story: An Introduction to Catholic Sexual Ethics (2008), and editor of the collection Leaving and Coming Home: New Wineskins for Catholic Sexual Ethics (2010).

One of his most important essays—“Working with the Grammar of Creation: Benedict XVI, Wendell Berry, and the Unity of the Catholic Moral Vision” (Communio, Winter 2010)—will be discussed in Part 2 of this interview. For now we begin with his latest book, Walking God’s Earth: The Environment and Catholic Faith (Liturgical Press).

Catholic Ecology: I’ve ordered your new book but it’s sold out! A good sign, I take it. From what I’ve seen online, its organization seems to follow that of salvation history. Starting with Chapter One, “Beauty,” then “Losing our Place,” (which seem like ways of approaching Genesis’s account of creation and the fall) then on to theology, practical applications, and...

Two politicians and a sociology professor walk into a church. No, seriously. Thanks to Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light, a sitting U.S. senator known for his bold stance on climate change, a state legislator that led the charge for groundbreaking climate legislation, and a renowned sociology and environmental studies researcher joined forces to encourage action in a time that desperately needs it.

“Interfaith Action on Climate Change,” held Wednesday at the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Providence, did more than disseminate information and encourage networking. It demonstrated the unitive nature of protecting nature.

Dozens of citizens from various faith communities and a wide array of ages, backgrounds, and professional affiliations had for that morning one common interest: working together to respond to the causes and effects of climate change on their beloved Ocean State—which has as its state motto the simple word “Hope.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) spoke with his usual eloquence and force about the science and politics of climate change. He graciously noted the difficulty of many of his colleagues of the opposite party. Many Republicans, he said, were afraid to come out in support of climate-change legislation because of “powerful interests” that seek to...

May I, for a moment, call your attention away from the Synod on the Family? Don't worry, I will be mentioning it below. For now I’d like to suggest that Catholic ecologists pay attention to Pope Francis’s recent warnings about the intentions of Satan. Yes, Satan.

If you haven’t already heard, the pontiff has a history of calling out our ancient enemy and he’s been doing it often these past few weeks.

In his homily last Friday, the Holy Father said that “we know—Jesus says clearly—that the devil always returns. Even at the end of life, he, Jesus, gives us an example of this.” Last month, on the Feast of the Archangels, he preached that Satan “presents things as if they were good, but his intention is destruction.”

So, you might ask, why all this talk of the demonic?

My guess is for two reasons: First, against the perception of many in the Catholic and mainstream media, Pope Francis is a pious, old-school cleric who actually believes in things like angels—the faithful and the fallen—and how they interact with the material world.

Secondly, the Holy Father holds the Chair of St. Peter in some of the...

Part 1 Part 2 │ Part 3

We come to the last of our three-part interview with the University of Notre Dame's Dr. Celia Deane-Drummond.

Catholic Ecology: We’ve mentioned climate change a number of times. I am increasingly concerned about the division within the Church between those who take climate change seriously and those who don’t—and the politicization on both sides of the issue. What are your thoughts as to why some people believe that the Church should stay out of the topic?

Dr. Deane-Drummond: I think part of the problem is that what happens in America—and it’s extremely unusual—is to link climate change with a particular political party. So it becomes attached to a political party and it is then associated with other things, like pro-life issues, in a way that is extremely damaging. In fact if you are pro-life than you should support eco-theology and ecological issues.

I find it very hard to understand this politicization, certainly, as a foreigner—

CE: I’m a life-long citizen of the United States and I find it hard to understand!

Dr. Deane-Drummond: [Laughs] Well, I do try. These issues should be apolitical, they’re too important...

Part 1 │ Part 2 │ Part 3

We continue with the second in our three-part interview with Dr. Celia Deane-Drummond of the University of Notre Dame. Having taken a wide look in Part 1 at the global variations in eco-theology, we delve deeper into issues such as the impact of Pope Francis on Catholic ecology, how to practice what we preach, and the necessity to recover the concept of the cosmic Christ.

Catholic Ecology: I was struck by something you said earlier—that the Western Church may have lost some of its sense of wonder in the liturgy, especially as it relates to link between creation and worshiping the Creator. In Eco-Theology you note a surprising lack of connection between eco-theologies and Christology. Tell us a little more about why theologians and/or Christian ecological practitioners should keep Christ toward the center of their work?

Dr. Deane-Drummond: It’s important, first of all, to recover creation, but then to see creation through what you might call a Trinitarian lens—in a sense seeing traces of the Trinity, as Thomas Aquinas said, there in the created order, but also seeing Christ in a different kind...

Part 1 │ Part 2Part 3

We’re fortunate to begin a three-part interview with Professor Celia Deane-Drummond, a full Professor in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. The conversation opens with a look at global variations in the theological perspective of ecology, and then moves on to the contributions of Pope Francis, the necessity for believers to keep Christ at the heart of ecological discussions, and much, much more.

Dr. Deane-Drummond’s unique appointment at the University of Notre Dame is concurrent between the Department of Theology in the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science. She was elected Fellow of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame in September 2011.

From 2000 to 2011 she held a professorial chair in theology and the biological sciences at the University of Chester, and was Director of the Centre for Religion and the Biosciences that was launched in 2002. In May 2011 she was elected Chair of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment.

Since 1992 she has published as a single author or as an editor twenty two books, as well as thirty three...


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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