Home / Front Page

The Holy Father’s address to Vatican diplomats integrates global challenges, and thus challenges both the world and political ideologues

In the latest annual New Year's address by the reigning pontiff to the Corps of Diplomats Accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis offered a stunning example of the integral nature of Church teachings, founded on the eternal truths of the gospel. With something to please and unsettle everyone, the talk covered a wide array of ills—from nuclear armaments to human trafficking, to climate change and ecological protection—and he connected all their solutions to the fundamental need to love thy neighbor.

In a classic example of “new evangelization,” the pontiff consistently links the 1948 document from the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with Church teachings, most especially with the 1963 encyclical by Saint John XXIII, Pacem in Terris—an earlier papal plea, in part, against nuclear warfare.

Building on the UN language on human rights, Pope Francis both applauds and criticizes how the contemporary understanding of rights—including “new rights”—is often at the root of so many contemporary social and political crises. He also strongly championed the right to religious freedom, as well as criticized international pressures to bring artificial contraception and gender ideology to those cultures that do not wish it.

“Somewhat...

Stressing a culture of encounter and integral ecology, Pope Francis explores the very themes at the center of the Magi’s journey to Christ

Addressing the Italian Catholic Primary School Teachers’ Association today as part of their 21st gathering, Pope Francis stressed three themes that will be front and center in this Sunday’s Feast of the Epiphany. They’re also three important themes for Catholics engaged in environmental protection.

“I would like to offer you three points for reflection and engagement: the culture of encounter, the alliance between school and family, and ecological education.”

Reading the address, one cannot help but find within it the searching magi who scour the cosmic order seeking the promised Messiah of Israel—and all that this implies. When they find this Messiah, they find him in the midst of his human family—a person's first and foremost experience of love and encounter.

First of all, I thank you for the contribution you give to the Church’s commitment to promoting the culture of encounter. … Christian teachers, whether they work in Catholic schools or in state schools, are called to stimulate in the pupils the openness to the other as a face, as a person, as a brother and sister to know and respect, with his or her history, merits and defects, riches and limits. The challenge is to

...
I can be a lousy environmentalist. But a new year inspires me to be a better steward of creation.

Back in 2008, I wrote a column about why I was a lousy environmentalist. And so I figured, ten years on, why not do it again.

In that column, I checked through a list of my eco-shortcomings—too lazy for reusable shopping bags, too self-centered to use less electricity—and while I’m happy to say that I’ve made progress (I now do use reusable shopping bags and I’m better at the fuel-consumption thing, for instance) I have a way to go.

And so with a new year before me, I have a few resolutions to become a better steward of God’s creation, and better in general at allowing God’s grace to help.

First, the practical: I want to set up a real compost bin. For years now I've been saying that I don’t want to throw out food wastes and I don’t want my town or landscaper to haul away yard wastes—especially because my small lawn and gardens are fed and treated with organic products.

Similarly, I want to set up rain barrels. (Any suggestions or thoughts on that?) And I want to shop locally more (and less on Amazon)—especially for my produce.

Now that my house has been sealed...

A troubled but active year worldwide offers lessons, warnings, and hope for 2018

Looking back at 2017, one thing is for sure: tackling the world’s eco-issues is going to take a lot more cooperation and understanding then we’ve seen thus far. Fortunately, our Catholic faith is all about universality.

Not surprisingly, then, the top ten Catholic eco-stories follow a few common themes. First: the teachings of our bishops—most especially the Bishop of Rome and his predecessors—have inspired eco-activity in parishes, religious orders, Catholic institutions, and the laity. Second: there has been a marked focus on the practical, such as the technical details of installing renewable energy, of lowering our consumption of just about everything, and of investing ethically. Lastly, the great theme of 2016 continued and, sadly, deepened in 2017: the ongoing divide between political and ideological extremes.

More on all that below.

But first, a brief programming note. As many have noted in your emails, my postings have been less frequent this year, especially these last few months. My apologies. The reason, some of you know, has been the demands in completing of my forthcoming novel, A Printer’s Choice—a science fiction mystery that gets to the heart of so many of our current age’s eco issues. The book is slated for a...

From Pope Francis to US Catholic organizations, the faithful are marching forward with policy demands, concrete steps

Building off the momentum of United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, Catholics around the world last week advanced their own momentum in moving climate policy forward. From Rome to the United States, a noticeable increase in activity has grown out of worries over rates of greenhouse gas emissions and the desire for improved measures to help poorer nations deal with the impacts of climate change.

Here are four big, recent happenings in Catholic climate advocacy:

1. Pope Francis set the tone last week in a message to the Prime Minister of Fiji, who is serving as the president of the 23rd session of the Conference of States Parties, the international body negotiating steps to address climate change. Using his signature bluntness, the Holy Father worried over “perverse attitudes” that are thwarting the necessary response to climate change.

Here’s some of the report by Catholic News Agency’s Elise Harris:

Francis sent a message Thursday to a conference on climate change, telling participants the problem is something that can't be ignored, but must be met with a proactive desire to develop effective solutions. “I would like to reiterate my urgent invitation to renew dialogue about the way in

...
The Catholic network CIDSE issues a plea to governments to implement the Paris climate agreement

A new paper, Climate Action for the Common Good, was launched today at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn by CIDSE — "Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité"—an organization of eighteen Catholic social justice organizations from around the world.

In releasing the document, CIDSE said it wanted to encourage governments to respond to climate change in a way that reflects the spirit of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, which many credit for having a significant impact on the passing of the 2015 global climate deal in Paris.

Like others watching the international talks, CIDSE noted that two years after that agreement, countries have done little to fulfill their climate commitments, while the United States has even left the agreement.

"While the Paris Agreement saw countries agree to limit global temperature increases to no more than 1.5 – 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels," CIDSE said in today's announcement, "forecasts suggest that current pledges to limit carbon emissions based on our current economic and development models will fall far short of meeting this target."

Speaking at COP23, Father Bruno Marie Duffé, secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, who is representing...

Pages

Subscribe to

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.