Home / Front Page

There is no Easter without Good Friday, no ecological conversion without the Cross.

Consider how the environmental community speaks to the world: you must change your ways; sacrifice for the good of others; deny your desires. You must become someone more selfless, charitable, and virtuous than you are.

Engrained in even the most secular, atheistic eco advocate is a knowledge that protecting life requires a sort of death to ourselves—a willingness to suffer so that others may live.

Here, of course, we hear the Christian hymn of the Cross. And what that hymn means—what God has revealed to us through the Passion of Christ—brings two vital realities for those seeking a world that embraces life in all its forms.


Consider the notion of “ecological conversion” that Saint John Paul II proposed and Pope Francis now champions.

“[Ecological] conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness,” writes Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. “First, it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works.”

In this light, the demands of Lent—self-sacrifice and good works—are spiritual and corporeal paths that lead us to the...

The Holy Father continues a series of addresses that continue the themes of Laudato Si'

Following an address last week to a gathering on Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio, Pope Francis spoke Monday to a gathering of the National Committee Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences. Both talks briefly underscored central themes in Laudato Si'.

The pontiff's theme this week was the Catholic understanding of faith's relationship with reason, and the role of the former to inform and guide the latter.

"The sciences and technologies are made for man and for the world," Pope Francis said. "[N]ot the man and the world for science and technology. They are at the service of a dignified and healthy life for all, now and in the future, and make our common home more liveable and supportive, more careful and guarded."

The pope's recent, rapid-fire statements come at a critical time in human history. With scientific and technological advances roaring into the marketplace at an ever accelerating pace, there comes increasing costs to the planet's resources and life-giving eco-systems, as well as new social and moral dilemmas that call for the truth of the Gospel more than ever.

One note of interest. In his talk Monday, as in Laudato Si', Pope Francis...

The Holy Father offered a beautiful catechesis today on what it means to be human

Pope Francis spoke to a gathering in the Vatican's Synod Hall today in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio. The pontiff used the occasion to not only underscore the unity across the decades in papal teachings. He also offered one of the most succinct and moving summaries of his priorities for the Church.

Playing of the word "to integrate”, a verb, he said, that is "very dear to me," Pope Francis drew definitive connections between Paul VI's encyclical and Laudato Si'. He also highlighted many of his pontificate's most powerful themes, such as his displeasure with disposability (of people and resources), as well as his desire to bring together disparate elements of the human condition.

"[H]uman life is like an orchestra that sounds good if the different instruments are in accord and follow a score shared by all," he said.

Today's address is a wonderful little mini-manifesto. While it will only take a few moments to read, you might ponder its implications for another fifty years.

Address of the Holy Father

Audience with the participants in the Convention organized by the Dicastery for Promoting...

Laudato Si’ has a lot to say about President Trump’s nod to fossil fuels. But maybe not the way we're thinking.

“There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.” + Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 188

President Donald Trump did again today: provoking rounds of applause in some corners and cries of despair in others. For those of us at environmental regulatory agencies, there was a lot of head shaking and head nodding as details of his executive order hit the wires.

Among other acts, the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth strikes down a number of climate and energy-related executive orders signed by President Obama. It requires agency reviews of a selection of energy and emissions-related regulations, and, importantly, it demands that federal cost-benefit analyses follow 2003 standards set by the Office of Management and Budget, “which was issued after peer review and public comment and has been widely accepted for more than a decade as embodying the best practices for conducting...

The Church and the world stop to ponder, celebrate, and worry over the waters of our world

Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. …

Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.

God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas

Genesis 1:9-10, 20-22

In contrast to the great biblical revelation of the goodness of our world’s waters, and of all that lives in them, there is the tale of the human treatment of our oceans, bays, rivers, and all the little bodies of water that trickle here and there. This tale tells of dumping tons of plastic wastes each...

For Catholics, protecting workers, families is critical when transitioning to renewable energy

The United States based Catholic Climate Covenant is tackling a critical issue on March 23rd with its free webinar “Just Transition: Shrinking our Carbon Footprint While Leaving No One Behind.” As the title tells us, the one-hour event will focus on the human impact of shifting away from fossil fuels.

“For the Catholic community, we need to always be 'both/and,'” said the organization’s executive director, Dan Misleh. “We need to both take care of our common home and those impacted by our efforts to conserve energy and deploy renewables. Catholic Climate Covenant offers this webinar to begin these important discussions.”

Misleh added that as Catholics “we know that striving for clean energy has to include caring for the workers being affected by shifts in energy policies. It’s just a part of who we are.”

Guided by the United States bishops

At its foundation, next week’s webinar follows the lead of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Their “Legislative Response to Climate Change” identifies three criteria that any morally acceptable greenhouse gas reduction or energy policy must satisfy.

First, it must “ease the burden on poor people.”

Second, it must “offer some relief for...


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.