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Molly Burhans, a mapper extraordinaire, is gaining international attention for connecting the Church with cutting-edge mapping and land-use planning tools

A global celebration this Wednesday of the modern miracles of high-tech mapping calls to mind an often underappreciated element of the Church’s charitable mission: helping its members use the land for good.

Assisting Catholic communities to benefit from smart land use is the passion of Molly Burhans—a shining example of the Catholic marriage of faith and reason, all brought together for the good of the world.

Burhans wants to help her fellow Catholics be better disciples of Jesus Christ by better managing their real estate.

And that’s one thing the Church has a lot of.

By most estimates, the Catholic Church is one of the largest landowners in the world with some 177 million acres of land in its parishes, schools, universities, monasteries, cemeteries, dioceses, and retreat centers. This land is found in almost every ecosystem and nation of the globe.

In the modern world, managing this amount of real estate takes digital tools—the sorts used by governments, non-governmental agencies, and the private sector. But what about the Church? What of its parishes—large and small—and its other communal institutions? How can they—we—benefit from such tools and mapping?

That’s where Burhans and her team come in.

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Analysis: Reasons why Friday’s climate plea did not include representatives of the United States church.

Unlike a joint statement of global bishops issued before the groundbreaking Paris climate accord three years ago, Friday’s statement—again aimed at upcoming international climate talks—didn't include representatives of the United States.

Given the U.S. government’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, eco-advocates were hoping that US bishops would sign on to Friday's statement.

But that didn't happen.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the U.S.-based Catholic Climate Covenant—a group that works closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—stressed prior climate statements by the US church.

“The U.S. bishops pushed back hard against the Trump Administration's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement and continue to weigh in with the administration on the rollbacks of key environmental regulations,” Misleh told Catholic Ecology. “They will continue to support international and domestic efforts that reduce climate change and its impacts, especially on the poor and vulnerable.”

Misleh noted that the United States bishops were among the first episcopal conferences to issue a statement on climate change in 2001 and have had an environmental justice office for over 25 years. And they’ve helped establish and continued to support Catholic Climate Covenant, the only...

Signed today, an appeal by six presidents of continental bishops’ conferences calls on government for action weeks before international climate talks

In the context of a recent United Nation’s report on the urgent need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, Church leaders today signed a statement calling the world's governments to work towards an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement for the people and the planet.

In short, they ask for the next United Nations climate change conference, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, in December, to achieve bold steps toward the goals of the 2015 international agreement forged in Paris.

The appeal was presented today in Rome and signed by Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, President, CCEE, Archbishop of Genoa; Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, FABC, Archbishop of Mumbai; Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, President, FCBCO, Archbishop of Suva; Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President, COMECE, Archbishop of Luxembourg; Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, President, SECAM, Archbishop of Lubango; and by Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, President, CELAM, Archbishop of Bogota.

“Their inspiration comes from the work done on the ground by the many courageous actors within and beyond Catholic communities, who are spreading the Pope’s messages of Laudato Si’,” said a statement by the Catholic charitable umbrella group “Coopération Internationale pour le Développement...

The papacy of Saint John Paul II brought concern for creation into the Church in bold, new ways

On October 16, 1978, the College of Cardinals elected Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła the 263rd Successor of Saint Peter. His papacy had immense impacts on the world and on the life of a troubled Church—including bringing eco-concerns deep within Church teachings.

His first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, "The Redeemer of Man," places eco concerns into a powerful, theological text—a forerunner for the many words Pope John Paul II would write and speak about ecology throughout his papacy. Words that created a foundation for his successors.

The Redeemer of the world! In him has been revealed in a new and more wonderful way the fundamental truth concerning creation to which the Book of Genesis gives witness when it repeats several times: "God saw that it was good". The good has its source in Wisdom and Love. In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man—the world that, when sin entered, "was subjected to futility"—recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love. Indeed, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son". As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was

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The devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael came at a critical juncture in US history and in the life of the Church. What can we learn from this alignment?

As President Trump continued his dismissal of climate change last week, Hurricane Michael grew stronger and quicker than forecasts expected. It smashed into Florida and bullied its way northeast, devastating pretty much everything—and everyone—in its path.

At the same time, a different kind of storm was buffeting the Church.

In Rome, a global synod with and about youth had become a focal point of months and years of ideological bickering—bickering that of late grew fierce with revelations in the Americas of clerical sexual abuse of minors and against seminarians. Topping off all this was debate over Rome’s new diplomatic agreement with China, which some say was a betrayal to already persecuted Catholics in that troubled nation.

It’s been quite a week. And from the looks of things, more storms are brewing.

The question is, what lessons can we learn to prepare?

Our answers can be found always in Jesus Christ. Our home will always be His Church. And our role models will always be the saints—and here we should pause and consider something extraordinary happening this Sunday.

Capping off a busy first week of the Synod on Young People, the Faith and...

In a wide-ranging ordination homily, Cardinal Gerhard Müller highlights the Catholic contribution to eco-protection: sound doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Church's history, whenever some deep disagreement arises, the words of cardinals, bishops, and those of the reigning pontiff help sort out who thinks what, and why.

Living in an age of competing views of what the Church is and how she is to subsist within the secular, it’s become a fulltime job to analyze the various statements, homilies, and writings coming at us these past few months at the unprecedented speed of the internet.

One particular homily, given on September 15 by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, deserves attention for how it places eco-protection into the context of our Catholic faith.

The entire homily can be read at Catholic World Report. Here, however, is the paragraph that draws the attention of Catholic Ecologists:

For the real danger for humanity today consists in the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and of moral decay, when no one any longer knows or teaches the difference between good and evil. The best protector of the environment and friend of nature is he who proclaims the Good News that there is survival with God alone:

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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.