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Ahead of secular international gatherings, nine Catholics groups announce the largest joint Catholic divestment to date from fossil fuels

Nine Catholic organizations from around the world today declared their intent to divest their investment portfolios from coal, oil and gas companies. According to the Global Catholic Climate Movement, this is the largest joint Catholic fossil fuel divestment to date.

The groups—including religious orders and dioceses from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy—made the announcement ahead of international negotiations this month on implementing measures in the Paris Agreement on climate change. The announcement also comes in preparation for the two-year anniversary of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are the chief contributors of the greenhouse gas emissions, which are stressing the world’s poorest communities as emissions alter planetary levels of thermal energy and moisture. According to data published jointly the USA-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), global temperatures in 2016 were the hottest year since records began, as were the two previous years.

The coordinated announcement to divest from fossil fuels comes as Rome continues to encourage unified global action on eco issues—as evidenced by a January conference at the Pontifical Lateran University sponsored by Catholic...

Reaching across the aisle may be easier than we think

The big question lately is, how do we get conservative Catholics to do something about eco-protection and climate change?

The question is everywhere, and it's coming not only from liberal eco-activists. Moderate and even pretty conservative ones are asking this, too. Of course the question stems from the great ideological divide that is widening even as you read this post. For reasons that are mostly political (that is, I'd say, primordially tribal), there are those on the right who emphatically reject the reality of climate change and eco issues in general, while some on the political left emphatically resist other realities, like the one telling us that life begins at conception.

Either way, overcoming the right-left divide may seem daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.

As someone who considers himself more on the conservative side of things, at least defined by current conventions, I’d like to propose a few ways forward (certainly not an exhaustive review) to help the right be more comfortable with the left when engaging eco and climate issues. In other another post, I'll tackle the matter from the other side.

1. Don’t invite. Just show up. Too often the question being asked is how to...

With an unprecedented effort among Catholics to join this weekend’s Peoples Climate March, we should all brush up on a few facts

An international push by the Global Catholic Climate Movement to mobilize Catholics for the secular Peoples Climate March is just one indicator of the growing involvement in climate advocacy of the Roman Catholic Church. Here in the States, the Catholic Climate Covenant is also leading the charge at a time when the Trump administration is threatening environmental protections and debating what to do with the Paris climate accord.

It’s certainly a busy time for Catholic climate advocates. It can also be a little confusing for those who may not know what to think of all this—or who are hearing worrisome reports about the Church’s eco-efforts.

And so here’s a primer on four things that should help Catholics see why so many of their brothers and sisters are worried, why they’re so active in climate advocacy, and why they’ll be marching (or praying, or both) for a better future this Saturday and beyond.

1. We know a lot

We know that gases like carbon dioxide are supposed to be in the atmosphere—and we’re glad that they are. They help keep the planet warm enough for life. They do so by trapping just the right amount...

My late grandmother, a Democratic party boss, would not be happy with the news about her beloved political party

Here in the States comes news that Democratic National Committee Chairman Thomas Perez has demanded that all Democrats support abortion rights. This got me thinking of another Democrat, a woman who rose through the ranks of the Democratic machine here in Rhode Island in the 1940s and 50s, who then shattered the glass ceiling of the City of Warwick’s Eighth Ward.

At a time when women in such positions were minor revolutions, my grandmother, Antoinette Patenaude, took the reigns as chair of her ward when her husband, who had held the position, died unexpectedly.

Because of this I never knew a time when women were not in charge in politics. It was common to see my grandmother run political meetings at her dining room table while I, sleeping over in my pajamas, my belly full with her old-school cooking and my face scrubbed, made puzzles in her living room.

She would take me knocking on the doors of her ward.

She would tell me to always be a Democrat because “Democrats look out for the little people.”

I never thought to ask my grandmother what she thought about abortion. I would suspect that she would frown upon it....

Winding up the Octave of Easter with the Feast of Divine Mercy—and Earth Day

While we acknowledge the centrality of the Cross in salvation history, as well as the inevitable sorrows brought by sin, eco-advocates are nonetheless finding much to rejoice as the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday overshadow Earth Day and baptize it.

With all that’s happening, what follows are three posts for the price of one. They're an overview of some of the big events going on; what it all means in the big picture of protecting life; and how Catholics should view it all in light of the entirety of Church teachings.

#Mercy2Earth Weekend

This year's back-to-back sequencing of the secular Earth Day and the great Catholic Feast of Divine Mercy is being acknowledged and championed by the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s #Mercy2Earth campaign. With an array of prayer resources and proposed activities, the campaign is also calling on individuals and groups to share news of what they’re doing to follow up on Pope Francis’s call to see eco-protection as a work of mercy.

There is a beautiful reality here that goes beyond how the Feast of Divine Mercy is being celebrated, in part, in light of...

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...


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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.