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The latest Catholic Ecology in the Rhode Island Catholic offers a little catechesis on a very important book of the bible

June 2018

Pop quiz: What was last Sunday’s first reading and why is it so important?

Before I give the answer, I’ll say that this reading—and the entire biblical text from which it comes—is a topic I focus on at length whenever I instruct anyone preparing for their sacraments of initiation. I do so because this text provides the foundation for understanding humanity, creation, and God’s relationship with both.

Sadly, it may also be the most underappreciated and misunderstood book in the bible.

Last week’s first reading was from the third chapter of the Book of Genesis. It’s the moment just after Adam and Eve misuse their free will and break the one rule that God had placed upon them. It’s the moment that God affirms the consequences of that choice. And it’s the reading with the first divine promise that while our free will may unleash evil, God’s presence in human history will be victorious—as the subsequent readings unpack further.

I’ve come across too many Catholics—lapsed and active—that think the Church reads Genesis literally; that God created the cosmos, Earth, and humanity in six twenty-four hour intervals; that Eve alone is to blame entirely for...

The Holy Father's address is part plea, part lecture, and all heart

A key element of the Holy Father's eco-encyclical Laudato Si' is dialogue, and at today's much-anticipated address by Pope Francis to energy executives gathered in Rome, the pontiff's words were both direct and pastoral, as well as urgent and complementary.

Acknowledging eco-efforts made to date by the energy sector, the pontiff added that "we are challenged to find ways of ensuring the immense supply of energy required to meet the needs of all, while at the same time developing means of using natural resources that avoid creating environmental imbalances resulting in deterioration and pollution gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future."

Citing his predecessor's eco-statements as well as his own, the wide-ranging address touched on the Paris climate accord, agriculture, economic theory, and, of course, the impact of a warming world on the poor.

What the response will be from those gathered will tell us how helpful the dialogue offered by Pope Francis is working. The fossil fuel industry is, after all, experiencing growing divestment from that industry, most recently by Catholic organizations. While some voices have expressed caution in dealing with an industry that is "duplicitous," others...

A brotherly message to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople voices a shared concern for creation, all people

Pope Francis released today a special message to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and to the participants of the International Symposium "Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People," which is taking place in Athens, Greece.

According to his own statement, Bartholomew organized the event, which wraps up tomorrow, "to explore the pressing environmental problems of Greece, examining the connections between ecology and economy, particularly in the context of pressing social and environmental challenges of our time." Bartholomew expressed his aim affirming "a collaborative response to the ecological crisis, while advocating for a sustainable planet as a sacred legacy for all people and especially our children."

Pope Francis has long been an admirer of Bartholomew, especially his eco-concerns and efforts. Last September, the pope and the patriarch penned a groundbreaking joint statement on ecology to kick off the ecumenical Season of Creation.

And now, Pope Francis continues to support his brother Bartholomew with the following message released by the Vatican earlier today.

Message of the Holy Father

To His Holiness Bartholomew

Archbishop of Constantinople

Ecumenical Patriarch

On the occasion of the international ecological symposium...

In a heartfelt letter to the Holy Father, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) urges caution for an upcoming Vatican meeting with fossil fuel industry representatives.

This Monday at a breakfast gathering of New England clean-water industry representatives, my US Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, chatted with me about the upcoming Vatican meeting that will include members of the fossil-fuel industry. When he mentioned that he’d be writing to caution the Holy Father, I asked for a copy of his letter, which his staff graciously shared with me today and which I’ve provided below.

In my capacity as an engineer at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the senator and I have had excellent conversations about climate change and adapting water-pollution control infrastructure to a warming world. He’s also been involved in interfaith eco-efforts—and has been complimentary about my writings and the great efforts of Pope Francis.

There are, of course, issues of profound disagreement between the Democratic senator and the Catholic Church—most especially on abortion, a rampant reality that ends human lives. On issues of ecology, public works, and climate change (among others), the senator is spot on. It’s unfortunate that the Church’s integrated approach to these issues (human life and ecology, etc.) is not shared by many in the political realm—on the left and right. And so we must hope and pray and continue to...

Fr. Joseph Mungai of Kenya is raising funds for a well in his home village to honor his beloved mom, Lucy Nungari Mungai.

Father Joseph Mungai is asking for help to bring clean water to the people of his homeland in Kenya. He’s asking in memory of his mom, Lucy, who died at the age of 53 from an illness complicated by the lack of clean, abundant water.

“Providing clean drinking water has been a passion for me for a very long time,” Father Mungai told Catholic Ecology in an interview via email. “When I was young we could walk for more than 20 kilometers to go and carry water on our backs to bring back home for domestic use.”

Just after his ordination four years ago, Father Mungai was assigned to a parish in Kisumu, Kenya. some 350 kilometers west of Nairobi. “In this parish, they had a bigger problem than we had at home.” While the people of Kisumu could get water from a local river, the quality of the untreated water was poor—and often dangerous.

And so Fr. Mungai’s passion grew.

In 2016 he was invited by a brother priest to Louisville, KY to meet Sr. Larraine Lauter, CEO of Water With Blessings. There he learned of how her organization provided water filters to areas of Honduras and...

In legalizing abortion, Ireland’s voters overwhelmingly support a culture of domination

Laws are not written for exceptions. They are—or should—reflect and safeguard the best of a people, including the expectation that the most vulnerable and the innocent will be protected.

Ireland has chosen otherwise.

With some sixty-eight percent of voters in Friday’s referendum casting their ballots to legalize abortion, the land of St. Patrick has invited the serpent back to the garden for another attack on truth and life.

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” Pope Francis teaches in his eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

By justifying the death of innocents, the Republic of Ireland has sanctioned murder whenever a stronger entity feels it necessary to remove a weaker one. This brings profound implications to this island nation’s people and ecosystems.

As voting was winding down today, here in the States I was speaking with a coworker about a young child she helping to raise. The child, the daughter of a relative, resists the rules placed on her—the tasks of cleaning up after herself, of brushing her teeth and contributing to the family. That there are consequences to her lack of service and sacrifice is a concept she struggles...


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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.