Home / Front Page

In a heartfelt letter to the Holy Father, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) urges caution for an upcoming Vatican meeting with fossil fuel industry representatives.

This Monday at a breakfast gathering of New England clean-water industry representatives, my US Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, chatted with me about the upcoming Vatican meeting that will include members of the fossil-fuel industry. When he mentioned that he’d be writing to caution the Holy Father, I asked for a copy of his letter, which his staff graciously shared with me today and which I’ve provided below.

In my capacity as an engineer at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the senator and I have had excellent conversations about climate change and adapting water-pollution control infrastructure to a warming world. He’s also been involved in interfaith eco-efforts—and has been complimentary about my writings and the great efforts of Pope Francis.

There are, of course, issues of profound disagreement between the Democratic senator and the Catholic Church—most especially on abortion, a rampant reality that ends human lives. On issues of ecology, public works, and climate change (among others), the senator is spot on. It’s unfortunate that the Church’s integrated approach to these issues (human life and ecology, etc.) is not shared by many in the political realm—on the left and right. And so we must hope and pray and continue to...

Fr. Joseph Mungai of Kenya is raising funds for a well in his home village to honor his beloved mom, Lucy Nungari Mungai.

Father Joseph Mungai is asking for help to bring clean water to the people of his homeland in Kenya. He’s asking in memory of his mom, Lucy, who died at the age of 53 from an illness complicated by the lack of clean, abundant water.

“Providing clean drinking water has been a passion for me for a very long time,” Father Mungai told Catholic Ecology in an interview via email. “When I was young we could walk for more than 20 kilometers to go and carry water on our backs to bring back home for domestic use.”

Just after his ordination four years ago, Father Mungai was assigned to a parish in Kisumu, Kenya. some 350 kilometers west of Nairobi. “In this parish, they had a bigger problem than we had at home.” While the people of Kisumu could get water from a local river, the quality of the untreated water was poor—and often dangerous.

And so Fr. Mungai’s passion grew.

In 2016 he was invited by a brother priest to Louisville, KY to meet Sr. Larraine Lauter, CEO of Water With Blessings. There he learned of how her organization provided water filters to areas of Honduras and...

In legalizing abortion, Ireland’s voters overwhelmingly support a culture of domination

Laws are not written for exceptions. They are—or should—reflect and safeguard the best of a people, including the expectation that the most vulnerable and the innocent will be protected.

Ireland has chosen otherwise.

With some sixty-eight percent of voters in Friday’s referendum casting their ballots to legalize abortion, the land of St. Patrick has invited the serpent back to the garden for another attack on truth and life.

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” Pope Francis teaches in his eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

By justifying the death of innocents, the Republic of Ireland has sanctioned murder whenever a stronger entity feels it necessary to remove a weaker one. This brings profound implications to this island nation’s people and ecosystems.

As voting was winding down today, here in the States I was speaking with a coworker about a young child she helping to raise. The child, the daughter of a relative, resists the rules placed on her—the tasks of cleaning up after herself, of brushing her teeth and contributing to the family. That there are consequences to her lack of service and sacrifice is a concept she struggles...

An ancient prayer to the Holy Spirit brings lessons for anyone working to protect the created order

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.

And so we come to the great Feast of Pentecost—a liturgical moment that comes with a prayer that we Catholic eco-advocates should say daily and meditate on in three important ways.

The first teaching is on humility. “Come, Holy Spirit” is a cry for aid. It’s an admission of our need for God’s nature-elevating grace. To utter these words is to admit before God and neighbor that we need this grace to grow in holiness and, in the process, grow in the virtues necessary to share with others (through word and deed) the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The second teaching is on the centrality of love. This “love” is not the worldly eros or philos, as important as those loves are. It is, instead, agape,...

Saving souls will always be the first duty of parish life, which we can do while taking steps to save our corners of creation

You’ll soon be hearing about tools to help the Catholic Church change lifestyles in favor of an integral approach to human and natural ecology, as spelled out by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and by his predecessors.

But you don’t have to wait. There are a few things we can do now in our parishes to begin our journeys to a better world.

Here are three:

We can look at our energy bills every month and plug away at lowering them by using more efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems. My local utility has programs to help, and so may yours. Even easier, you could audit your own lighting and utility systems to check how long they’ve been in service and how efficient they are. A simple cost-benefit analysis might show that energy savings from new boilers or lighting (for example) will pay for the cost of new systems after a few years, and then you'll continue to save on your monthly bills. At some point, you’ll need professional help with switching to more efficient systems—but then, you may have that expertise already in the pews. Even by making small steps monthly, your energy bills will begin...

Set in an age reeling from eco-crises, the novel tells a story of faith, the future, and the power of free will

Remember all those posts with a mention of that novel I was writing? Well, after two years, the novel is done. And I wanted to announce today, on the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, that it's ready for pre-order, with a release date set for August 28, the Feast of Saint Augustine. (Besides a dedication to my mom and dad, it's also dedicated to those two saints.)

A Printer’s Choice (Izzard Ink), a sci-fi murder mystery, was conceived in the posts of this blog. It explores questions important to Catholics that are engaged in eco-protection—questions about choice and the necessity of choosing well. Set in locations on Earth and in the orbits, A Printer's Choice takes place in a future extrapolated from today’s geopolitical and ecological turmoil. My goal in writing this story was not simply to illuminate the struggles of our world, but also the promises and implications of building a better one, one choice at a time.

And so far, reviewers have championed this message.

“W.L. Patenaude pens an out of this world, whodunit mystery in A Printer’s Choice,” writes Cheryl E. Rodriguez at Readers' Favorite.

Rodriguez adds that the book...

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.