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The devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael came at a critical juncture in US history and in the life of the Church. What can we learn from this alignment?

As President Trump continued his dismissal of climate change last week, Hurricane Michael grew stronger and quicker than forecasts expected. It smashed into Florida and bullied its way northeast, devastating pretty much everything—and everyone—in its path.

At the same time, a different kind of storm was buffeting the Church.

In Rome, a global synod with and about youth had become a focal point of months and years of ideological bickering—bickering that of late grew fierce with revelations in the Americas of clerical sexual abuse of minors and against seminarians. Topping off all this was debate over Rome’s new diplomatic agreement with China, which some say was a betrayal to already persecuted Catholics in that troubled nation.

It’s been quite a week. And from the looks of things, more storms are brewing.

The question is, what lessons can we learn to prepare?

Our answers can be found always in Jesus Christ. Our home will always be His Church. And our role models will always be the saints—and here we should pause and consider something extraordinary happening this Sunday.

Capping off a busy first week of the Synod on Young People, the Faith and...

In a wide-ranging ordination homily, Cardinal Gerhard Müller highlights the Catholic contribution to eco-protection: sound doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Church's history, whenever some deep disagreement arises, the words of cardinals, bishops, and those of the reigning pontiff help sort out who thinks what, and why.

Living in an age of competing views of what the Church is and how she is to subsist within the secular, it’s become a fulltime job to analyze the various statements, homilies, and writings coming at us these past few months at the unprecedented speed of the internet.

One particular homily, given on September 15 by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, deserves attention for how it places eco-protection into the context of our Catholic faith.

The entire homily can be read at Catholic World Report. Here, however, is the paragraph that draws the attention of Catholic Ecologists:

For the real danger for humanity today consists in the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and of moral decay, when no one any longer knows or teaches the difference between good and evil. The best protector of the environment and friend of nature is he who proclaims the Good News that there is survival with God alone:

How should Catholic eco-advocates respond as the US sexual abuse crisis reaches Rome, dampens eco-enthusiasm?

Sex-abuse scandals in the US Catholic Church implicated the Vatican and Pope Francis himself just as the worldwide ecumenical Season of Creation kicked off on September 1. As I commented when events broke, Catholic ecologists would do well to acknowledge these events for two reasons: the victims deserve it and unless we speak out against the causes of these scandals, our eco-efforts will be heard only by those already engaged in environmental concerns.

In mid-August, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed horrific levels of the sexual abuse of minors and cover-ups by Catholic clergy. The report’s release capped weeks of anticipation and legal activity to suppress it. Within their many findings, the grand jury called into question Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.—who had served as the bishop of Pittsburg in the 1990s and 2000s—specifically about his handling of abusive priests.

Then came charges of the sexual abuse of seminarians by the high-ranking US prelate (now former) Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

For rank-and-file Catholics who had thought the worst of the sexual abuse crisis was over with the dramatic events that began in Boston in the early 2000s—Catholics who...

Catholic eco-advocates must address recent abuse scandals in the United States and across the globe

The Christian satire site The Babylon Bee posted a piece today that Catholic eco-advocates should take seriously: “Pope Says He Will Address Sex Abuse Scandal Once He’s Finished Talking About Climate Change.”

The response on social media was often brutal—critical of Pope Francis, US prelates, and eco-issues—as one would expect as righteous anger surges these past days through the members of the Bride of Christ.

As Catholic eco-advocates prepare for the Season of Creation, which begins September 1 with the Orthodox World Day of Prayer for Creation, efforts to elevate the Church’s eco-concerns are—rightfully, I believe—being drowned out by the latest examples of episcopal failures, clerical maleficence, and the horrific abuse of the innocent.

There are many excellent voices unpacking and clarifying recent events, such as Chad C. Pecknold and JD Flynn, editor and chief at Catholic News Agency.

To put all this in a Catholic eco-context, we need only read the words of the Holy Father in Laudato Si’:

Sobriety and humility were not favourably regarded in the last century. And yet, when there is a general breakdown in the exercise of a certain virtue in personal and

A new web resource is inspiring the world to take action for our common oceans

With the harm caused by human activity on our oceans becoming more evident, an interfaith group has assembled an online resource to bring to the world the means to tackle this growing crisis.

InterfaithOceans.org is “a multi-faith campaign that encourages religious and spiritual communities to join with scientists to appreciate the gifts of the ocean systems, species, and coastal communities—and work together to protect and restore them.”

While still being added to, it’s already an important piece of faith-based eco-advocacy. When fully built out it will offer:

  • a Religious Declaration of Ocean Emergency
  • an overview of major ocean issues with action responses and links to climate change and marine conservation campaigns and organizations
  • faith resources for teaching the connections to individual religious backgrounds and ocean care, and shared interfaith rationale and ethic on common principles
  • interfaith ocean ethic and pledge and links to other faith pledges
  • timely actions and ongoing ones
  • a blog for news of Interfaith Ocean actions or guest blogs

This is definitely a resource to spend time with and to share. Our planetary oceans are under great stress—the result of human sin on a global scale.

The answer, then, is the witness and the work...

On this Golden Anniversary of Paul VI's prophetic encyclical, Catholic eco-advocates must reaffirm and teach Humanae Vitae

Forty-seven years before the issuance of Laudato Si’, another encyclical about life rocked the Church. Like Laudato Si’, this earlier encyclical was cheered and reviled along ideological lines and still is. And also like Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae speaks more than a few inconvenient truths to those who seek the satiation of personal desires rather than heed the natural order of things.

Paul VI issued his prophetic encyclical on human life against the advice and hopes of many—a topic receiving much attention on this Golden Anniversary.

Given a great number of errant voices seeking magisterial approval for artificial contraception and other ills, Paul VI demonstrated a prophet’s courage and trust in Christ by making clear the teachings of the Church. A good many on the left were outraged by this—and still are—just as some on the right are dismissive of Laudato Si’.

The good news is that the commonality between these two papal documents offers ways forward.

Papal prophets

Paul VI was correct in his warnings about disconnecting the conjugal act from procreation—as many have noted recently. Who can deny the coming to pass of this prophetic statement?...


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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.