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What our pontiffs have been calling for is being discovered as our world slows, reflects on the value and basics of life

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

+ Pope Francis, Extraordinary Moment of Prayer, Urbi et Orbi, March 27, 2020


Listening to the Holy Father during yesterday’s stunning and truly historic moment in Saint Peter’s Square, I could not help but remember these words of his predecessor:

“What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles ‘in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which

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Contributor Kat Hoenke explains how big or small yards, or even an apartment patio, can make a big difference in caring for our common home

We depend on healthy ecosystems for our survival. This includes clean air, clean water, and ecosystems that can adapt to a changing climate. We know that the more biodiverse an ecosystem, the better it's able to provide these "ecosystem services." However, biodiversity is decreasing on our planet.

When speaking of biodiversity in Laudato Si’, Pope Francis said “[t]he loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses. Different species contain genes which could be key resources in years ahead for meeting human needs and regulating environmental problems.”

However, there is hope.

One of the best ways to help increase biodiversity is to reduce barren lawns and plant trees and plants on native to your area on your property, whether that be in your yard, on your Parish or school grounds, or even your apartment balcony. We need to integrate our developed communities with nature. Native plants provide food for pollinators and sequester carbon, as well as increase biodiversity.

Science has shown that integrating native plants on our properties on a large scale could restore...

Caring for our global home benefits from a love of our first ones

Two weeks ago, after I told my mom that one of her sons passed away, I found myself on my front porch watching clouds pushed along by late winter winds. Because I live in the house in which I grew up, the morning’s views and smells were more than familiar to me. They were parts of what had made me. And so they provided comfort—a reminder of my brother Chuck, who would have played in this neighborhood, this yard, and in the nearby woods, over which the clouds were now racing.

In this time of social distancing and quarantines—of people staying close to home—I’ve been thinking about not just my home, but the privilege of getting to grow up and grow old in the house of my boyhood.

Our connection with a place is a sacred reality. We moderns have mostly forgotten this.

Fast-paced urban living, frequent relocations, children of divorced parents having two or sometimes three homes—all these factors, and more, can add up to a lack of any foundation in a place that is home. And with that comes a lack of known lands, skies, and cycles of light and scent that have nurtured you and will continue...

Genesis 2:15 tells us that “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it." But how can we help to do that?

In November 2015, 364 scientists from 184 countries signed a manifesto in the journal BioScience, an alarm of unprecedented scale, twenty-five years after the first warning from scientists in the world to humanity.

Over the past twenty-five years, the article noted, the quantity of drinking water available per inhabitant had dropped by 26%, the number of dead zones in the oceans had increased by 75%, fishing catches have dropped. The appeal also cites the loss of 120 million hectares of forest.

"Particularly troubling is the current trajectory of a potentially catastrophic climate change, due to the increase in the volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) released by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural production", underlined the scientists.

Today, mankind consumes an enormous amount of energy and the cost of this energy increases considerably and continuously. It is therefore essential to act to protect our environment in order to avoid many climatic and other ecological upheavals.

Here are some steps you can take to do your part:

Stop Buying/Using Plastic Completely

Plastic has invaded the planet: Every minute around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased and thrown away literally minutes later. If we add all...

Catholics (should) bring a clarity and integrity to the fight for life that political extremes don't

Toxins harm all humans, especially the fragile lives of the unborn.

In medical or scientific communities, this is not a controversial statement. Within many fields, it’s well known that the presence of certain chemicals can derail the development of a child’s nervous system and brain—a process that takes off about ten days after conception.

During this time, a series of specialized cells relocate within a person’s developing body and align to form the nascent spinal cord. This simple array of cells then moves, divides, multiplies, connects with other cells, and forms structures that fold into specialized areas that become the brain and spinal column. It’s a miraculous process that must occur with exacting precision if the child is to form normally. Toxins—such as mercury or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—can create small but disastrous breakdowns in this process, crippling the unborn baby.

Maybe even killing them.

This ecological and public health truth seemed to have gone unnoticed by congressional Democrats last week, a timely omission as preparations were underway for Washington D.C.'s 47th March for Life, which will flood the nation’s capital with waves of young and old, men and women of many faiths or none, and of a full spectrum...

As fires scorch a continent, there's work for us all. Including prayer.

In response to the devastation unfolding in Australia, Fr. Charles Rue penned the following prayer and has graciously offered to share it with Catholic Ecology. Please add this to your daily prayers and share it widely.

Fr. Rue, a Missionary Society of St Columban, has worked overseas in South Korean parish work and as a teacher of liturgy. Since the Columbans adopted eco-faith work in 1988, inspired by Fr. Sean McDonagh, Fr. Rue has been campaigning and writing to link ecological awareness and the Catholic faith.


Creative and Nurturing God,
we weep in the face of dry land and bushfires,
dying crops and animals,
traumatised families and communities.

Our land evolved in Your wisdom over eons.
Some people learned to live within its boundaries
thriving in its fruitfulness, and in humility
responded with gratitude and praise for its gifts.

Often with good intentions,
we have imposed out ideas of progress and prosperity
demanding lifestyle benefits and production
that push the land beyond its capacities.

Teach us to listen to the land with humility.
Send the Spirit of Jesus to teach us respect.
Guide...

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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.