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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 on...

With their demands against the decriminalization of abortion, Catholic eco-advocates in Ecuador are demonstrating that we can fight for both human life and creation

As Catholic pro-life advocates converge this week on Washington, D. C., for the annual March for Life, their brothers and sisters in Ecuador are fighting efforts to decriminalize abortion in that country. Among many Catholic groups joining the Ecuadorian fight is the nation’s chapter of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

GCCM Ecuador is petitioning its National Assembly against proposed changes to its Integral Criminal Code, also known as the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code. Such a change would run counter to Article 45 of the nation's constitution, which recognizes a human being’s right to life from the moment of conception.

In 2008, Ecuador received international attention when it added specific rights to its constitution to nature itself. Should the current proposal pass to decriminalize abortion in cases involving incest, rape, and "non-viable" fetal defects, ecosystems would have more rights than specific classes of pre-born children.

"We strongly reject any cause to decriminalize abortion," the GCCM petition states, "and we call for legislation in favor of all vulnerable people so that their life will be fully protected."

The GCCM petition calls on Ecuador’s legislature “to firmly reject any aggression against life from its origin, either...

Ordinary Time is when we remember Catholicism’s sacramental nature and the importance it places on nature itself

The Season of Christmas ended with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord—an event to remember as we journey now through Ordinary Time. It is, after all, a feast that stresses how something as basic as water was, and continues to be, a means to mediate the life-giving grace of God.

More on that in a bit. First, it's important to briefly note how the Baptism of the Lord calls to mind the real and, today, polluted River Jordan.

As this study shows, agricultural runoff, water withdrawal, and a myriad of other stressors pollute large portions of this iconic waterway. The river is also a source of conflict, as are most sources of water in many areas of the world.

Yes, even a river as revered as the Jordan is subject to modern stressors.

The good news, of course, is what this observance teaches. And what it promises, especially for those of us eager to care for creation.

Let me explain that with a question: Why would the Son of God, the Word made flesh, need to be baptized? This question has been asked since the days of the early Church. Carl Olson, the editor of...

At the heart of today’s solemnity are messages for all people—especially all those working to protect creation.

I came across a little gem today on Twitter. It summed up my favorite Epiphany themes as well as a few thoughts I had today at Mass.

The Tweet was from a Capuchin Friar who Tweets under the handle @FrCharles. It said simply this:

There’s a lot in those few words. For Catholics engaged in eco-protection, I suggest we ponder and pray over them in light of the following Epiphany realities.

1. Human reason is ordered to Christ

The magi from the East were born and bred in a pagan world but their use of human reason allowed them to explore creation—to seek its mysteries—and so come to the truth about Jesus Christ.

Their journey from darkness to light was a literal one, yes. But also spiritual. How else could they have been open to the ancient prophecies of Israel? How else could they have been open to divine inspiration regarding the true intentions of Herod? How...

Next in an occasional series introducing Catholic eco-leaders, we meet a man on the front-lines of innovative Catholic eco-education

A new opportunity to learn about the Church’s take on nature and eco-protection offers the chance to introduce Michael Dominic Taylor, an up-and-coming teacher on the foundations and implications of all things Catholic ecology.

Mike contacted me before Christmas about an online course coming next month. “Introduction to Integral Ecology: the Ecological Vision of Laudato Si'” is an interdisciplinary exploration of our world and its current environmental crisis. It’s been developed to examine Laudato Si’ and its roots with the aid of contemporary authors such as Wendell Berry, Pablo Martinez de Anguita, Stratford Caldecott, and Joseph Ratzinger, as well as classical authors from Aristotle and Plato to Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas.

When Mike asked if I’d help spread the word, I couldn't refuse. This sort of learning opportunity is critical for a solid understanding of the Church’s long, long understanding of nature—in the fullest meaning of that word. And such an understanding will help us all live God’s calling to better tend his garden, our common home.

Mike’s unique background makes him a perfect fit for teaching this kind of course.

He has degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies (Bowdoin College, USA) and Philosophy...

Looking back on the ups and downs of 2018, we're reminded that there’s much work ahead—and there are many reasons for hope.

Previous editions of the top-ten annual Catholic eco-summaries have focused on individual events, projects, and people. And while there was certainly no lack of those in 2018, this year’s analysis looks at larger and united trends across the universal church.

Indeed, what makes 2018's Top Ten list so unique is in how it demonstrates the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church rising when it acts as the unified Body of Christ or falling when we retreat into our own local ecclesial corporations.

That said, let's see what exactly 2018 meant for Catholic eco-advocacy.

10: A global Catholic response to climate change.

At the close of this year’s United Nations "Conference of Parties" climate talks in Poland, the Church issued a statement that concluded with this statement: “Faith and reason must come together enabling us to make positive choices in our lifestyles, in how our economies are run, and in building a true global solidarity necessary to avert this climate crisis.”

This "coming together" is exactly what’s been happening thanks to an exceptional coalition of Catholic groups made up of men and women—lay, religious, and clerics—from around the world. Groups such as 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.