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We seem to have forgotten that the sacramental nature of our faith innately celebrates and heals all creation

During an eco-talk in another diocese, a participant shared with me how her parish celebrated Masses for creation. Special readings were read and hymns were sung, and the entrance procession, she said, included a child carrying an Earth-like beach ball, which would be placed before the altar for the duration of the Mass.

The ball, she said, represented creation.

I hated to burst her bubble, but I explained that the Mass has always been a celebration of creation. Our gifts of bread and wine are actual components of creation that are brought to the altar so that the celebrant may consecrate the Eucharist.

Not only that, but the grace the flows from the Mass—that pours forth from the very body and blood of Jesus Christ—not only embraces those in attendance but contributes to the restoration of the entire created order.

Unfortunately, this ancient reality seems to have been forgotten.

Elsewhere, members of religious orders and Catholic eco-groups are exploring the idea of adding a liturgical "season of creation" to the current liturgical year. This is a disturbing proposal rising out of a lack of appreciation that the focus of the liturgical year is the Creator, not creation. More precisely,...

Divestment decision marks an acceleration in the momentum around climate action

With climate change having a noted impact on water supplies around the world, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Chairperson of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, choose today, World Water Day, to announce that the Episcopal Conference of Austria will divest from all businesses that extract or produce fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

This decision includes all financial investments of the bishops’ conference, all Austrian dioceses, and all other institutions within their sphere.

“By signing the divestment commitment of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) the Austrian Bishops´ Conference joins the global divestment movement of over a thousand institutions. This is a prophetic step that consequently follows the undeniable truth that burning all known fossil fuel reserves will lead us to unthinkable catastrophes”, says Anja Appel, director of the Coordination Office of the Austrian Bishops´ Conference (KOO).

Around the world, Catholic institutions have been leaders in taking concrete steps to address the climate crisis. Austria is the third bishops’ conference to announce its divestment from fossil fuels, following Belgium and Ireland.

These bishops’ conferences join nearly 120 other Catholic institutions that have divested, including large German Catholic banks. These Catholic institutions are the leaders in a global total of...

My March 2019 Rhode Island Catholic column unpacks two big reasons why ecologists cannot champion abortion

March 2019

As I write this, the Rhode Island pro-life community is reeling from the passage in our House of Representatives of a bill that would—among other evils—hardwire into state law the killing of the unborn at any time before birth.

The irony is that many who voted in favor of this legislation, or who supported it, also champion ecological concerns. But one cannot claim eco-friendly credentials and advance the intentional and often brutal ending of a human life.

In fact, pro-abortion politicians (tragically, some of whom are Catholic), and all those who support such a barbaric practice can learn a thing or two from a true appreciation of ecology and the practice of ecological protection. I say this for two reasons that both have to do with the relational nature of creation.

First, as environmental advocates remind us, the health of the natural world is necessary to support human life. Clean air and water, healthy food and an environment free of toxins are necessary for both the born and, often more so, the unborn.

In other words, protecting ecosystems—which are comprised of and nurture life—is a moral necessity. That makes the voices for environmental protection champions of...

A special eco-leader post: In Laudato Si', Victor Cid finds inspiration to care for God’s creation and to face his battle with leukemia.

On this the sixth anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis we meet Victor Cid—a young man from the City of Linares in Jaén, Spain. He’s a photographer, hiker, and a local animator for the Global Catholic Climate Movement. His love of nature found new meaning when he read Pope Francis's Laudato Si'—a document that has also helped Victor understand his struggle with leukemia.

Victor is 31. While his job is related to computers, he has always loved nature and photography. He shares his photographs and his thoughts at his website derutasporlanaturaleza.es.

“Since Pope Francis published Laudato Si', I’ve tried to help preserve our
common home from my little place (my website) from a Christian perspective.” Victor added that “working to preserve our common home implies being concerned about joining all the human family to search for a sustainable way of development for everyone. We know that things can change.”

Things did change for Victor with the diagnosis of cancer. But rather than fall into despair, he found meaning and hope in the words of the Supreme Pontiff.

“I have already received a bone marrow transplant, and now I am at home,...

Just in time for Lenten reading, the public policy arm of the Minnesotan Catholic Church has issued an excellent pastoral examination of all things ecology.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference has set a high bar for local churches with the release of Minnesota, Our Common Home.

Part catechesis, part practical assessment, the easy-to-read document unpacks Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’ and the teachings of his predecessors and then offers ways to translate those teachings into action.

Make no mistake, Minnesota, Our Common Home isn't a document just for the people of that state. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in eco-protection—or current affairs, for that matter.

“As Pope Francis repeats in Laudato si’, everything is connected,” the document notes, “and as Catholics we believe that even things that at first seem totally unrelated are, in fact, intricately woven together in God’s providential design.”

Minnesota, Our Common Home makes the crucial observation that “we are happiest when our lives are unified, not compartmentalized, when we allow the truths we believe to shape all aspects of our lives, not just some of them.”

In that light, the document is a true opportunity for catechesis and evangelization—and thus for baptizing the culture and for saving souls.

Minnesota, Our Common Home opens with a section called “A Crisis of Nature,” which notes that “[a]lthough Laudato si’...

Pope Francis's 2019 Lenten message calls to mind creation's place in salvation history

Each year, the Successor of St. Peter issues a reflection in preparation of the great Season of Lent. This year, Pope Francis has released a statement that calls to mind the centrality of creation in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Father has outdone himself. And so, with no further delay, let us read Pope Francis's 2019 Lenten message:

For the creation waits with eager longing
for the revealing of the children of God” (Rm 8: 19)

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Each year, through Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager...


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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.