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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...

A guest post by Bill Jacobs and Kathleen Hoenke of the Saint Kateri Conservation Center urges Catholics in California and elsewhere to encourage butterfly habitat at home.

The following is a guest post from Bill Jacobs and Kathleen Hoenke of the Saint Kateri Conservation Center, a group for which I serve on the Board of Directors. I asked Bill and Kathleen to pen this piece given recent news on the peril faced by the western monarch butterfly, and the response that we can Catholics can have to help.

“Extinction seems likely as monarch butterflies die at ‘catastrophic’ rate,” reads the recent Facebook headline from SFGATE.com, the website of a San Francisco newspaper. The paper cites research by the Xerces Society showing that the number of western monarch butterflies wintering in California has declined by more than eighty-six percent since 2017.

In 1981, the Xerces Society counted more than one million wintering monarchs in California. In 2018, volunteers counted only 30,000.

Scientists from Cornell University blame the declines in monarch populations on sparse autumnal nectar sources (e.g., goldenrods), weather, drought, misuse of insecticides, and habitat loss. Other potential stressors include fire and smoke along the migration path and in wintering areas, climate change, loss of roosting trees, and loss of milkweed plants. Milkweeds are the only host plant...


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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.