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The great Fiat of Mary changed humanity and all creation forever, a fact that elevates the work of protecting the natural world.

Given its natural placement nine months before Christmas, the Feast of the Annunciation typically falls sometime during the end of Lent—a time when our focus draws to what Mary’s Yes made possible: The Cross and Resurrection.

In three ways that stem from Christ’s saving presence, the Annunciation is especially important for Catholic ecologists.

The Annunciation’s and the natural world.

A great heresy of the early Church—one that festers still among the often “spiritual but not religious” among us—is the denial of the goodness and the permanence of nature. Rebellious sects outside of and within the Church were especially vocal during its first few centuries. They believed that the brokenness of the world, that sickness and death, meant that the created order was something from which we must flee.

In response, the Church made certain to codify the books that would be recognized as scriptural—hence the formation of the Bible. As part of this process, it maintained the canonical status of the Hebrew Scriptures, which some voices had wanted to suppress.

A key moment of the Hebrew Scriptures is, of course, the creation of everything. Including humanity.

Millennia ago, pagan creation myths, such as this Babylonian one, viewed...

Dr. Dan DiLeo of Creighton University has been on the front lines of climate advocacy for years—and he’s about to share why all Catholics should be there, too.

Eco- and climate advocacy is fundamental to what it means to be Catholic, says Dr. Dan DiLeo, a Creighton University faculty member, long-time climate activist, and friend to these pages. “Care for creation is a virtue that’s essential [for Catholic mission]—not optional or secondary,” DiLeo told Catholic Ecology, noting that that statement echoes Saint John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace message as well as Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’.

DiLeo will be offering a deep dive into this proposal in a special online presentation this Monday, “Climate Change and Catholicism: Climate Justice as Essential to Catholic Mission.”

The March 22 talk (which will begin at 7:00 p.m. Central Time) is part of Clarke University’s Frederic and Emma Schemmel Endowed Lecture in Theology series. Following DiLeo’s lecture, the Archbishop of Dubuque, The Most Reverend Michael Jackels, will offer a response.

Questions and discussion will conclude the evening.

DiLeo told Catholic Ecology that his lecture will explore four key areas: Love ( as seen as justice), ecclesiology, and missiology; care for God’s creation and climate justice; U.S. Catholic potential and failure, and; future pathways.

“Overall, this is not about ethics, but ecclesiology,” said DiLeo. “We’ve had the...

An inspired group of young Africans are eager to meet the growing demand for eco-education. Now, all they need is a way to get moving.

There’s little about Africa that's small. This includes the hearts of its people and the distances that they must travel to help one another care for their common home.

Few know the reality of big distances more than the team at Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa. Their vocation to work with Catholic youth throughout the continent is often hampered by an inability to travel, especially from their home base in Nairobi to areas in eastern Africa.

“Over the last eight years, we have been forced to miss endless opportunities to reach more young people across the continent—especially those in remote, rural areas,” David Munene, CYNESA Programs Manager, told Catholic Ecology.

“We have been rained on and scorched in the sun wasting valuable time while waiting for a bus or a bodaboda (motorbike taxi) to take us to our destinations. We have an invitation by the young people of West Pokot that has been pending since 2018.”

Munene adds that if CYNESA had its own, dedicated vehicle, Laudato Si' would be in more places than it currently is.

Everything is connected

it is in his eco-encyclical Laudato Si' that Pope Francis reminds us that...

A forthcoming Church-backed letter to Brazilian leaders signals growing ecclesial pressure to protect the Amazon

Catholic institutions the world over have an opportunity to unite in demanding that the Brazilian government abandon existing policies that are destroying the life-giving Amazon rainforest.

A unique coalition led by the Episcopal Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and Bank für Kirche und Caritas, a German-based Catholic financial institution, has drafted and will send a somewhat scathing letter to Brazilian government officials, including President Bolsonaro and the nation’s vice president.

“[T]he Amazon is not only our ‘common lung’ of humanity, but also, in very concrete terms, home to a large number of indigenous people,” the letter states. “The unchecked growth of legal or illegal, but tolerated, deforestation and occupation of indigenous lands by the extractive industries, cattle breeders, soybean and other agricultural producers and loggers leaves behind not only a trail of environmental destruction, but also deprivation of rights, displacement and quite often murder of the indigenous people.”

Signatories are currently being sought among Catholic eco-organizations, and then the letter will be made public when it is formally submitted on the Monday of Holy Week. When released,...

Christianity’s most important political contribution is proclaiming the truth that we are made in the image of a God who is pure love and relationship.

Two weeks ago, I brought my mom for her first COVID-19 vaccination. After almost a year of providing most of her 24/7 care—a consequence of protective lockdowns—I and everyone else at the community center that morning were all (mask-covered) smiles. The giddiness came certainly from the sight of so many vulnerable men and women finally being vaccinated. But there was something else: the sight of so many people in one spot was itself strangely gratifying. After months of isolation for young and old, it was a relief to be part of a crowd.

There was a lesson in that moment—one we Christians must embrace anew if we’re serious about protecting our natural world and building a better, more just society.

Christianity and relation

For Christians, to be fully human begins with our relationship with God, first and foremost, and then with each other and with all of creation. This is a foundational truth, one revealed at the very opening of the Book of Genesis and that escalates throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

In the New Testament, Christ elevates this reality as God with Us. In the person of Jesus Christ, divinity enters the stuff of creation—water, minerals, electro-chemical signals, and all...

Findings released today on the Feast of St. John Paul II may spell bad news for politicians with a reputation of downplaying environmental protection

While many Catholics in the United States today are debating Pope Francis’ reported nod to homosexual civil unions, there appears to be growing agreement within the US church both in the reality of climate change and that the issue must be addressed.

According to polling released this morning by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, 80% of white Catholic voters and 77% of nonwhite Catholic voters agree that climate change is happening.

A majority of US Catholic voters would also support policies that address climate change, such as clean energy infrastructure. 76% of nonwhite Catholic voters expressed such support as did 68% of white Catholic voters.

Support was strongest across racial and religious demographics when asked if “fulfilling our responsibility to protect God’s creation" was a basis for supporting climate action.

88% of nonwhite Catholics agreed with that statement as did 90% of white Catholic voters. Support was also heavy for this statement among Black Protestants, white evangelical protestants, Jews, and other faiths.

“As Catholics, we say we have a covenant with God to protect creation," said Dan Misleh, the founding...

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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.