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Pope Francis has supercharged his predecessor’s eco-teachings, but not everyone is on board

At the four-year anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis, there's much to celebrate, much to ponder, and a couple of concerns.

There were worries in the Catholic eco-sphere when Benedict XVI, the Green Pope, announced his abdication of the papacy in 2013. Would the next pope continue his teaching on environmental protection? Would the Vatican continue its sustainability mission?

I was certain that Benedict’s predecessor wouldn’t disappoint us, but I didn’t expect the far-reaching impact of Pope Francis.

From his homily at the Mass of his installation, on the Feast of Saint Joseph, to Laudato Si’ and onward to this very day, Pope Francis has firmly engrained ecology within the life of Catholic Social Teaching.

Just a few months into his pontificate, Francis introduced what would become a central theme to his eco-teachings and his understanding of the global human condition. At his June 5th, 2013 General Audience, he spoke of the “culture of waste” in a way that seamlessly linked with his predecessors' teachings, and that would foreshadow the concept of integral ecology that two years later would take flight in Laudato Si’.

Then in November of that year he wove ecology...

The convergence of Divine Mercy Sunday and Earth Day weekend offers much to ponder and pray for this Lent

As always one step ahead, the Global Catholic Climate Movement announced this week that this year's Lenten journey takes on special meaning with Earth Day landing squarely one day before the great Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated the Sunday after Easter. This will make the weekend of April 22nd and 23rd a special time for Catholic ecologists—one we can begin preparing the way for right now.

According to the GCCM, #Mercy2Earth is a global campaign to encourage Catholics to reflect and act on Pope Francis’s September 1st 2016 message “Show Mercy to our Common Home.” The campaign is structured around Lent as a time of preparation and the weekend of Divine Mercy and Earth Day as a special time to act.

Midway between now and Divine Mercy Sunday is World Water Day, during which Catholics are being asked to fast in reparation of our social and ecological sins, and to “pray for ourselves and the ways that we have failed in caring for creation and for our neighbors.” Prayers that day will also be for world and local leaders, that they be graced with “the moral courage to protect our precious bodies...

Our eco-inspired Lenten practices can save souls and eco systems

With the dawn of the great Season of Lent comes sacrifices of the things we love best. This year, why not try to add fossil fuels to the mix?

The concept of carbon fasting is not all that new, and many Christians have long embraced the practice every Lent and throughout the year.

Two years ago, the Global Catholic Climate Movement began an eco-fasting campaign on a global scale, with the suggestion that carbon be one of our targeted physical sacrifices.

This year the Catholic momentum around carbon fasting continues to build, most notably in the Archdiocese of Bombay.

The goal in all this is, of course, two-fold. Lenten sacrifices help us build our spiritual stamina to refrain from the desires of the world—not out of some gnostic hatred of creation, but out of a desire to align our wills with something other than our wants.

In doing so we can more easily embrace the second, most important reason for sacrifice: it’s good for the soul’s journey back to God.

Fasting from carbon adds a modern twist. Cutting back on our use of fossil fuels reminds us of just...

A two-day conference reminds us that safe water and sanitation is essential for life, peace

The Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences today wrapped up a two-day gathering on one of life's most important elements.

Inspired by Laudato Si', and prompted by growing water crises across the globe, the event—"The human right to water: An interdisciplinary focus and contributions on the central role of public policies in water and sanitation"—followed the cycle of water to, through, and beyond human usage.

The event drew some ninety experts from across the globe and from many disciplines. Co-sponsored by the School of Dialogue and the Culture of Encounter, based in Argentina, the gathering blended faith, reason, and practice to look at policies that support or detract from the right to safe and easily accessible drinking water and sanitation.

The event concluded with a talk from Pope Francis.

Reported by Catholic New Service, the pontiff stressed the basic need of clean water "because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Urgent, because our common home needs to be protected.”

“Each day —...

Recent eco statements by US bishops, and their reception, highlight divisions in the Church

Where the Triune God brings unity, Satan seeks to sow division.

Few truths better explain the ongoing debates and, yes, hostilities within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

From the indissolubility of marriage to immigration, there are many reasons we are divided—many symptoms to the disease of sin. One of these issues is, of course, environmental protection—which is all I’ll focus on here.

Last Friday, His Excellency, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego gave an impassioned speech at a United States gathering of the World Meeting of Popular Movements. Brian Roewe of the National Catholic Reporter provides his usual in-depth coverage of the event and the talk by Bishop McElroy.

The speech was on a variety of topics—mostly a repudiation of the policies of President Trump, including on the environment. His fiery words fired up many of the faithful and infuriated many others. As it is so often, the real story seems to be found in the comments section—that dreaded online netherworld of hostilities and anonymity that bleeds with the modern-day fractures and wounds of the Body of Christ. In Roewe's story, the comments ran from the vilification of the bishop to his pending beatification.

Also...

Reusing and repairing takes a hit from a new generation of Monopoly fans that have rejected the thimble

Sorry, all. I’ve been tied up again with book edits. But now they’re complete and shipped off, so it’s time to dive back into the troubled waters of eco protection.

If I may, I’d like to return tonight in the shallow end, with an issue that may not seem all that worthy given everything happening in Washington D.C. and elsewhere.

But then, perhaps it is.

By now you may have heard the news about an online poll taken by Hasbro, the influential toy company based in my home state of Rhode Island. Apparently, last month voters opted to throw away the thimble as a Monopoly token. The thimble has been a mainstay of the board game since its introduction in the 1930s. Now it has succumbed to a generation more familiar with routinely buying new and tossing out worn clothing rather than stitching fabric together at home—a generation besieged every season with the next season’s new must-haves. It's doubtful that many young people today have ever pondered the ontology of a thimble.

Indicators like the this speak volumes. They remind us that the eco wars are not just taking place in the halls of governments or...

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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.