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Just in time for Lenten reading, the public policy arm of the Minnesotan Catholic Church has issued an excellent pastoral examination of all things ecology.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference has set a high bar for local churches with the release of Minnesota, Our Common Home.

Part catechesis, part practical assessment, the easy-to-read document unpacks Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’ and the teachings of his predecessors and then offers ways to translate those teachings into action.

Make no mistake, Minnesota, Our Common Home isn't a document just for the people of that state. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in eco-protection—or current affairs, for that matter.

“As Pope Francis repeats in Laudato si’, everything is connected,” the document notes, “and as Catholics we believe that even things that at first seem totally unrelated are, in fact, intricately woven together in God’s providential design.”

Minnesota, Our Common Home makes the crucial observation that “we are happiest when our lives are unified, not compartmentalized, when we allow the truths we believe to shape all aspects of our lives, not just some of them.”

In that light, the document is a true opportunity for catechesis and evangelization—and thus for baptizing the culture and for saving souls.

Minnesota, Our Common Home opens with a section called “A Crisis of Nature,” which notes that “[a]lthough Laudato si’...

Pope Francis's 2019 Lenten message calls to mind creation's place in salvation history

Each year, the Successor of St. Peter issues a reflection in preparation of the great Season of Lent. This year, Pope Francis has released a statement that calls to mind the centrality of creation in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Father has outdone himself. And so, with no further delay, let us read Pope Francis's 2019 Lenten message:


For the creation waits with eager longing
for the revealing of the children of God” (Rm 8: 19)

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Each year, through Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager...

A guest post by Bill Jacobs and Kathleen Hoenke of the Saint Kateri Conservation Center urges Catholics in California and elsewhere to encourage butterfly habitat at home.

The following is a guest post from Bill Jacobs and Kathleen Hoenke of the Saint Kateri Conservation Center, a group for which I serve on the Board of Directors. I asked Bill and Kathleen to pen this piece given recent news on the peril faced by the western monarch butterfly, and the response that we can Catholics can have to help.


“Extinction seems likely as monarch butterflies die at ‘catastrophic’ rate,” reads the recent Facebook headline from SFGATE.com, the website of a San Francisco newspaper. The paper cites research by the Xerces Society showing that the number of western monarch butterflies wintering in California has declined by more than eighty-six percent since 2017.

In 1981, the Xerces Society counted more than one million wintering monarchs in California. In 2018, volunteers counted only 30,000.

Scientists from Cornell University blame the declines in monarch populations on sparse autumnal nectar sources (e.g., goldenrods), weather, drought, misuse of insecticides, and habitat loss. Other potential stressors include fire and smoke along the migration path and in wintering areas, climate change, loss of roosting trees, and loss of milkweed plants. Milkweeds are the only host plant on...

With their demands against the decriminalization of abortion, Catholic eco-advocates in Ecuador are demonstrating that we can fight for both human life and creation

As Catholic pro-life advocates converge this week on Washington, D. C., for the annual March for Life, their brothers and sisters in Ecuador are fighting efforts to decriminalize abortion in that country. Among many Catholic groups joining the Ecuadorian fight is the nation’s chapter of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

GCCM Ecuador is petitioning its National Assembly against proposed changes to its Integral Criminal Code, also known as the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code. Such a change would run counter to Article 45 of the nation's constitution, which recognizes a human being’s right to life from the moment of conception.

In 2008, Ecuador received international attention when it added specific rights to its constitution to nature itself. Should the current proposal pass to decriminalize abortion in cases involving incest, rape, and "non-viable" fetal defects, ecosystems would have more rights than specific classes of pre-born children.

"We strongly reject any cause to decriminalize abortion," the GCCM petition states, "and we call for legislation in favor of all vulnerable people so that their life will be fully protected."

The GCCM petition calls on Ecuador’s legislature “to firmly reject any aggression against life from its origin, either...

Ordinary Time is when we remember Catholicism’s sacramental nature and the importance it places on nature itself

The Season of Christmas ended with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord—an event to remember as we journey now through Ordinary Time. It is, after all, a feast that stresses how something as basic as water was, and continues to be, a means to mediate the life-giving grace of God.

More on that in a bit. First, it's important to briefly note how the Baptism of the Lord calls to mind the real and, today, polluted River Jordan.

As this study shows, agricultural runoff, water withdrawal, and a myriad of other stressors pollute large portions of this iconic waterway. The river is also a source of conflict, as are most sources of water in many areas of the world.

Yes, even a river as revered as the Jordan is subject to modern stressors.

The good news, of course, is what this observance teaches. And what it promises, especially for those of us eager to care for creation.

Let me explain that with a question: Why would the Son of God, the Word made flesh, need to be baptized? This question has been asked since the days of the early Church. Carl Olson, the editor of...

At the heart of today’s solemnity are messages for all people—especially all those working to protect creation.

I came across a little gem today on Twitter. It summed up my favorite Epiphany themes as well as a few thoughts I had today at Mass.

The Tweet was from a Capuchin Friar who Tweets under the handle @FrCharles. It said simply this:

There’s a lot in those few words. For Catholics engaged in eco-protection, I suggest we ponder and pray over them in light of the following Epiphany realities.

1. Human reason is ordered to Christ

The magi from the East were born and bred in a pagan world but their use of human reason allowed them to explore creation—to seek its mysteries—and so come to the truth about Jesus Christ.

Their journey from darkness to light was a literal one, yes. But also spiritual. How else could they have been open to the ancient prophecies of Israel? How else could they have been open to divine inspiration regarding the true intentions of Herod? How...

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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.