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Protecting creation is a core Catholic idea—and it goes far beyond the secular notion of eco-protection.

For Catholics, Earth Day is every day for reasons uniquely rooted in the intersection of faith and reason. Catholics look at ecological protection informed by both divine revelation and the harsh realities we know from science and human experience.

This comes with three takeaways that every Catholic should know, share, and live.

1. Our faith is deeply pro-creation. This point can’t be hammered home enough. For Catholics, creation is kind of a big deal because God made it, Christ entered it, and the Church uses it to mediate grace through the Seven Sacraments (especially the Mass)—to say nothing of the promises of the Resurrection for a new heaven and a new earth. This means that eco-protection (that is, caring for the natural order) is non-negotiable for Catholics.

2. Being pro-creation means you’re pro-life and pro-marriage. This also needs to be hammered home again and again. Eco-protection and defending human life, as well as the means by which human life is brought into the world, go hand in hand. We cannot be in the streets saving seals without also fighting for the unborn, the elderly, and the marginalized. Sure, we may have to pick and...

A brief essay by Catholic Ecology's Bill Patenaude looks at a surprising message in Laudato Si' about our expectations of government

Ave Maria Press invited me to contribute to their latest Ave Explores Series with a look at the convergence of government and faith. This was fun to write, since I've had over two decades to reflect on this after my return to the Church in 1999, at which point I had eleven years under my belt as a government regulator.

Here's part of the opening:

In praising international agencies and non-profit organizations for their work in the Amazon ... Pope Francis rightfully applauds efforts to ensure that government fulfills “its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.” (LS 38). He also makes a general call for pressuring governments to “develop more rigorous regulations, procedures, and controls” for the protection of local, regional, and worldwide ecosystems (LS 179).

To be fully appreciated, however, these expectations require a complete reading of Laudato Si’ with its Christian understanding of the human person and its “everything is connected” call to nurture and protect both our common home and each other. The role of government must certainly include rules and regulations and the will and...

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,...


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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.