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Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation highlights the theology behind the ethics of eco-protection

To hope and act with creation, then, means to live an incarnational faith, one that can enter into the suffering and hope-filled “flesh” of others, by sharing in the expectation of the bodily resurrection to which believers are predestined in Christ the Lord. Message of His Holiness for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

The Holy Father’s latest eco-statement, issued last week in preparation for the September first World Day of Prayer for Creation, may not be what some expect. But it is exactly what it should be.

The statement grounds our eco-efforts in our faith, which should always be the foundation on which we seek to build or protect anything.

Moreover, the statement provides a sort of catechesis of what our faith proposes that is different from worldly eco-voices—and such catechesis is part and parcel of evangelization.

Why is there so much evil in the world? Why so much injustice, so many fratricidal wars that kill children, destroy cities, pollute the environment and leave mother earth violated and devastated? Implicitly evoking the sin of Adam, Saint Paul states: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning...

Remembering the life of a true-life advocate.

Pro-life and Catholic ecological advocates lost a dear friend and tireless advocate with the recent death of Kristen Hayes, 51, of Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

Kristen’s influence on these pages and myself cannot be understated. She first reached out to me in 2011 when she came across my eco-writings, especially this blog, and we became fast friends. She was a self-taught expert on issues ranging from Catholic eco-teachings to toxicology, but she was a natural at advocating and championing the causes of life.

With her urging and guidance, I agreed to join forces with her and other like-minded faith-based eco-advocates in 2012 and developed this Joint Declaration for Life—a document that sought to heal ecclesial divides by demonstrating the connections between traditional pro-life movements and ecology, which was of course a major theme of Benedict XVI and would be in Pope Francis’s 2015 eco-encyclical Laudato Si.

Later, she was instrumental in helping me with background info and the sources necessary to write this piece on toxins and human life in Catholic World Report.

She was fierce in her devotion to helping educate others about man-made toxins and their impacts on human life—a lesson she...

What science and our Catholic faith have to teach us about more fruitful conversations

At a time with more access to information than any other in history, division about what is and is not true is only growing.

This has been a longtime reality for those of us engaged in climate education and advocacy. What should be a straightforward assessment of facts is often anything but. Camps arise—usually along predictable, political binary positions—which leads to heated tempers and strained relationships.

But why? How can our evolved minds, now with so much access to so much data, be so divided—so much so as to create absolutely divergent versions of reality?

Adrian Bardon, a professor at Wake Forest University, tackles these questions in his book The Truth About Denial: Bias and Self-Deception in Science, Politics, and Religion' (Oxford Univ. Press 2020), as well as in this 2020 article in The Conversation, in which he writes,

In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present strong evidence, or evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time, when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen.

But things don’t work that way when scientific advice presents a picture that threatens someone’s perceived interests

Today is Parashat Bereishit for the Jewish people, a day which begins the annual reading of the Torah.

Today, with the reading of the opening of the Book of Genesis—from creation to the story of Noah—the Jewish people observe Parashat Beishit, which begins the annual reading of the Torah. Last week, the day of the gruesome attacks on the Israeli people by Hamas, was Simkhat Torah (Rejoicing in the Law), which was the end of the previous cycle—a day traditionally celebrated with family and friends.

Meanwhile, throughout October, Catholics are gathering across the world, often weekly, to pray the Rosary. This October Devotion often includes Eucharistic adoration and the recitation of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Both traditions are not only comforting. They also offer lessons and reminders about our fallen world—a world still reeling from images and stories of Hamas’s brutality against infants, children, the elderly, the infirm, and now a world at war, with all the carnage that goes with it.

The backdrop of all this, of course, is a host of ecological crises, from climate change to deforestation, which can easily be overlooked in such times.

But what connects and informs both the wars of the world and our environmental ills are the texts that Jews across...

Review and analysis of Pope Francis's Laudate Deum

The following summary of Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation on Climate Change was written by W.L. Patenaude's of Catholic Ecology for Catholic World Report.

The 2015 release of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ surprised and often disappointed a good many who had been anticipating a papal document devoted to climate change.

Laudato Si’, it turned out, was something more. Offering only several paragraphs to the issue—along with rebukes of the secular environmental movement, with its often anti-human mentalities—the encyclical gave a comprehensive overview of multiple, often related ecological and social issues, all in the context of a Catholic understanding of faith and the fallen human person. While prudential matters were examined and political solutions offered, the ultimate answer at the heart of Laudato Si’ was humanity’s right relationship with each other, with creation, and with the Triune God.

With the release today of a less formal apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), a decisive statement by the Successor of Saint Peter about climate change has been given, but once again, this document—while titled and focused “on the Climate Crisis”—is something more.

Exhortations, critiques, and hope

The urgency running through Laudato Si’ to address ecological issues is certainly amplified in this latest...

Missio Dei examines herbalism and its long use by people of faith

"In truth, not only is Herbal Medicine compatible with Christianity, but it was the Christian monks, nuns and priests of the Catholic Church who preserved the herbal knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome."

A must-read essay by Judson Carroll in Missio Dei tackles not just the subject of herbalism but in doing so it calls attention to an oft-forgotten reality about the Church: It was Catholic religious orders that preserved much of what had preceded them. Too often, the Church is seen as the undoer of ancient knowledge, when in fact quite the opposite is true.

It was (and is) the Catholic love of nature—of all the gifts God offers us in His created order—that allowed it to seek and find in nature the very substances that heal and bind.

For Catholic Ecologists, this is something not just to remember, but also to champion.

Read Carroll's full essay here.

Photo: Flickr/Hornbeam Art: Herbs


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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.