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Reports that Pope Francis failed to inspire Catholics about climate change tell us more about contemporary journalism than it does about Catholics and climate

A study of how Catholics view climate change has been making news today without some critical considerations of what the report actually said, or where it may be off base. Here are a few points we should all keep in mind.

1. What the news is saying: The Guardian ran the story yesterday about research indicating that Catholics, especially conservative Catholics, were largely unmoved by Laudato Si’. Other outlets picked up the story and delivered much the same message: That “[t]he pope’s call for action on climate change has fallen on closed ears, research suggests.”

This from The Guardian:

... researchers found that the effects of awareness of the letter were small, although awareness was linked to more polarised [political] views. For both Catholics and non-Catholics, conservatives who were aware of the letter were less likely to be concerned about climate change and its risk to the poor, compared to those who had not. The opposite trend was seen among liberals.

2. Timing is everything: The study is based largely on questioning done only about a month after the release of Laudato Si’. While the authors...

From the WikiLeaks drama we remember that the environmental movement has long found a home in anti-Catholic elements of the Left, which is why the Church must get her voice heard

The bizarre and disheartening political drama known at the United States 2016 Presidential Elections continues, and Catholics are caught in the middle. That is, faithful Catholics are caught in the middle. Misinformed and sometimes openly dissident Catholics seem to be using the election for ideological advantage, as they are the ecological movement. Thus Catholic ecologists must make clear that it will only be through the Gospel's consistent life ethic that we human beings can protect nature—in every sense of that word.

This week we learned from emails published in WikiLeaks that John Podesta, who is heading up Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as other high-ranking campaign officials have been rather unappreciative of the Church.

The matter is being covered by some news outlets and ignored by others. (My local daily, The Providence Journal, seems unaware of this national story.) The Catholic media has covered it, of course. In fact CatholicVote.org has a helpful summary of unfolding events. Archbishop Chaput (Philadelphia) has penned an even more helpful response at the National Catholic Register.

But what is all this about? One email chain from the WikiLeaks trove helps explain the growing controversy. This from...

Salt and Light offers a wonderful video version of Saint Francis's great canticle of praise to God for creation.

Salt and Light Media offers some absolutely must-see videos that tell the story of Catholic ecology. This one, based on Saint Francis's Canticle of Creation, is well worth its two minutes and thirty seconds. As are they all.

I added this video to my previous post, but it really deserves its own.


With a growing fossil fuel divestment movement, Catholics around the world are putting into action the teachings of Laudato Si’

As the universal church joins together Tuesday for the Feast of Saint Francis, Catholics across the globe are increasingly putting into practice the Church's ecological teachings as espoused by Pope Francis, his predecessors, and a good many bishops.

The big news today is the coordinated announcements of some half-dozen Catholic organizations who are divesting from holdings and investments that are tied to fossil fuels.

The groups include the Jesuits in English Canada; the Italy-based Federation of Christian Organizations for the International Voluntary Service; the Presentation Society of Australia and Papua New Guinea; the Catholic SSM Health network in the United States; the Diocese of the Holy Spirit of Umuaramá in the Brazilian state of Paraná; the Hong Kong-based Missionary Society of St. Columban (with a global presence in some fourteen countries); and the Italy-based Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco—Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Read more on Saint Francis from Catholic Ecology here: St. Francis: beyond the garden statues

These organizational divestment efforts come a year after the continental Associations of Bishops’ Conferences issued a statement prior to the COP 21 international climate talks that, in part, called for “new models of development...

At events this week at the Vatican and elsewhere, momentum builds to combat climate change and other ecological ills

It was a busy week in the world of Catholic ecology.

Some fifteen months since the issuance of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ and some nine months since the COP 21 international agreement on tackling climate change, there remains a heightened urgency to baptize global realities with the teachings of the Church.

On Wednesday, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace held a special gathering to “evaluate the reception and impact of Laudato Si’.”

Alongside members of the pontifical institutions were distinguished scholars and leaders from various sectors, including the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Those present shared their views on the Laudato Si’, as well as “the scientific consensus it reflects, the ethical guidance it offers, the economic and social changes it requires and calls for.”

The gathering, attended at its closing by Pope Francis, focused especially on the role of Church teachings in seeking success for COP 22, which will be held in Morocco in November.

Meanwhile, the Argentinian-based Universal Ecological Fund offered a new analysis—The Truth About Climate Change—that summarizes the impacts of last year's COP 21, held...

The most-excellent journal Communio offers helpful and beautiful insights into Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical

One of the casualties of a summer focused on my own big writing project was posting on the brilliant essays about Laudato Si’ in the Winter 2015 edition of Communio: International Catholic Review. In short, if you don’t have a copy nearby, order it here and make the time to read it.

The edition came in my postal box this spring and I’ve been savoring it since. In it seven authors provide helpful and often lovely insights into the depths of Pope Francis’s encyclical, the first such papal document to fully tackle the topic of ecology—in all its integrated forms.

Only two of these essays are available for free download. I’d like to focus on two that are not available online.

As always, my friend and Communio frequent contributor Mary Taylor offers a unique voice in her essay “Ecology on One’s Knees: Reading Laudato Si’.” Taylor critiques many of the readings and much of the commentary that has flourished since the release of the eco-encyclical in June 2015. She finds much if it wanting and offers a helpful way forward.

“It appears from the fragmented readings … and from popular commentary that many readers...


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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.