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The death of Alfie Evans is a terrible reminder that if we’re serious about integral ecology we should be championing life in a unified fashion

Alfie Evans, the British toddler suffering from an apparent neurological illness, died this morning, days after his life-support systems had been turned off at the orders of an English court.

The tragic affair continues to arouse a strong and growing response around the globe—even if some news outlets have been less than dedicated to reporting what’s happening.

Particularly vocal was Pope Francis, who has been cheered these past weeks by conservative Catholics for supporting Alfie and his parents, Kate and Tom. The pontiff had gone so far to offer treatment for the child at the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome—if only the British courts would have allowed it.

Catholics around the world joined the pontiff in championing Alfie’s dignity. They’ve reminded the world that the brand of Utilitarianism employed by British medical and legal systems is a form of savagery that all people of good will should reject.

There’s been a great deal of analysis about all this, most especially this fine piece in First Things by Fordham’s Dr. Charles Camosy.

What you and I should stress within all this analysis is the consistent theme of integral ecology within Pope Francis’...

With the announcement this week of big Catholic institutions divesting from fossil fuels, people are taking notice

It’s been a long-standing tradition within the Church to not do business with those that knowingly harm others. In the twenty-first century, that means divesting from companies that profit from fossil fuel extraction—the byproducts of which we know are a major cause of global warming.

Following a smaller announcement in 2017 of Catholic institutions divesting from the fossil-fuel business, the Global Catholic Climate Movement announced this week that an impressive thirty-five more institutions have followed suit.

Long championed by ecclesial voices that you’d expect to take such action, this latest wave comes with some big names. One of those is Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization of some 160 Catholic charities. Lead by His Eminence Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila, the organization knows firsthand the impacts of stronger storms, sea-level rise, drought, and other impacts of a warming globe.

The list, in total, is impressive. And there are divesting resources available for anyone in a position of influencing organizational finances.

The dent all this makes in the global fossil fuel industry may not be noticed in anyone's financial ledgers, although one divesting group is ...

Today's readings come with pretty powerful messages about saving the world

I was struck this Earth Day morning by the readings at Mass—this Good Shepherd Sunday—especially the exhortation in the Psalms:

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

The readings reminded me of my Good Friday post, where I asked these questions: when we Catholics engage environmental issues, or any social issues, what expectations do we bring? What strategies do we employ?

I noted that we do need a revolution, just not the political variety. What we need is God’s revolution.

Today on Good Shepherd Sunday—another day called “Good”—I'm struck by the confluence of this annual observance with another, Earth Day, and what it has to say about our growing overreliance on government. Of course, I understand the state's importance. I’m a civil servant, after all. What concerns me is the unspoken expectation by some, especially those on the left, that new laws and regulations will solve all our ills, as if it were possible to legislate the love of neighbor.

Many of our Earth Day events show us just the opposite....

Sooner or later, we Catholic ecologists must decide where our loyalties lie.

During tonight’s reading of John’s passion narrative, I was struck with the iconic moment when the mob chooses freedom for Barabbas, the revolutionary, over Jesus the Christ. It’s an image that we Catholic ecologists shouldn’t turn away from. Indeed, it should challenge us.

After all, let’s answer this honestly: When we Catholic eco-advocates engage in environmental matters, what expectations do we bring? What strategies do we employ? In all our marches, petitions, and civil disobedience, are we crying out for the revolutionary, or for the Savior of the world?

Yes, the world needs a revolution. We need a new status quo to scale back the catastrophic levels of ecological destruction that we humans continue to unleash upon God’s creation. But the revolution we need is not political. It's not rooted in the tactics that seek the overthrow of the ruling powers.

What’s needed is God’s revolution. What’s needed to save the world is grace. The grace that flows from the very heart of the Risen Christ Crucified.

Our job, then, is to be revolutionaries of grace. More than ever, the world needs the Church and her priests to usher that grace into the faithful, so that we...

Four reasons why the current Successor of Saint Peter, like his predecessor, cannot be constrained by ideological worldviews

Five years ago today, we in the Church and the world met our new Vicar of Christ. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected as the Successor of Saint Peter, succeeding Benedict XVI, who had abdicated his authority because of age and health, and as a historic teaching opportunity about the pontificate.

Cardinal Bergoglio took the name Francis and immediately began shaking things up—(mostly) delighting the ideological left and (often) frustrating the right.

But when you look clearly at Pope Francis’s place in the life of the Church, you see something ideologues on both ends of the political spectrum are missing: an “interior continuity” with his predecessor, as noted recently by that predecessor himself.

In May 2013, just a few months after Pope Francis took to the Chair of Saint Peter, I had written for Catholic World Report about this continuity because even then there were signs of growing division within in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Satan, no doubt, was using recent events to confuse the faithful, as well as to instill fear into some and pride into others—the sin of despair and the sin of presumption—and I felt it necessary...

Another mass shooting in the US demonstrates a cultural acceptance of power and violence in the name of individual choice

With another seventeen tragic deaths in an American small town—victims of another school shooting—we’re hearing the usual debates about gun ownership, security, and protecting the vulnerable. Through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, however, most especially Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical Laudato Si’, and those of his two immediate predecessors, the bloodshed in Parkland, Florida is connected to other forms of violence that, to name only a few, justifies the killing of the innocent, such as the unborn; the disposal of the elderly; the mistreatment of the alien; and the destruction of the environment. Sadly, such an integrated Catholic view is not welcome in popular discourse.

Instead, we are debating if and how government should control weapons, often ignoring that government plays a limited role in controlling free will. Both sides of the gun debate bring helpful ideas, but, as usual, both are prone to dismissing their opponents’ points. Here in the States, ideologues have made an art out of the inability to hear an opposing view, let alone adjusting one’s opinion based on it.

And so, polarization widens, and our ancient enemy relishes the consequences.

One of these consequences is the inability to process nuanced and holistic...


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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.