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The shared start of Advent and the UN Climate Change Conference remind us that true ecological conversion begins with the coming of Christ

On the heels of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the twenty-fourth annual United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP24) opened Monday in Katowice, Poland with the goal of finalizing the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, the Climate Chief for the United Nations, said that “this year is likely to be one of the four hottest years on record. Greenhouses gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and emissions continue to rise. Climate change impacts have never been worse. This reality is telling us that we need to do much more—COP24 needs to make that happen.”

The hope for the next two weeks of meetings will be a finalized set of implementation guidelines to “unleash practical climate actions with respect to all the targets and goals of the Paris Agreement, including adapting to climate change impacts, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial and other support to developing countries,” according to a UN media release.

“We simply cannot tell millions of people around the globe who are already suffering from the effects of climate change that we did not deliver,” Espinosa said.

The conference...

A new book by Catholic ethicist Benjamin Wiker has something to challenge and enlighten everyone

Readers of Catholic Ecology know that this blog had two goals: To examine the Catholic engagement of ecological protection and to transcend ideological polarization. If I’m doing my job, my posts will alternate between delighting and unsettling everyone. That’s why I was thrilled with Dr. Benjamin Wiker’s book In Defense of Nature: The Catholic Unity of Environmental, Economic, and Moral Ecology.

It’s a book that every Catholic eco-advocate and catechist should read and ponder.

I have three reasons for that claim:

1. Wiker makes the important connection between the laws of nature and natural law.

It’s an understatement to say I was elated when I read In Defense of Nature. Given my blog’s tagline “Where the laws of nature meet natural law,” I felt that I found in Wiker a long-lost brother.

I say this because Wiker gets right to the point by asking the same questions I do:

If we can befoul nature by violating its intrinsic order and beauty, can we do the same to human nature and in particular human sexuality? If intemperance and greed destroy the natural environment, do they also destroy the moral environment and sexuality itself?

The answer, of course, is yes....

Molly Burhans, a mapper extraordinaire, is gaining international attention for connecting the Church with cutting-edge mapping and land-use planning tools

A global celebration this Wednesday of the modern miracles of high-tech mapping calls to mind an often underappreciated element of the Church’s charitable mission: helping its members use the land for good.

Assisting Catholic communities to benefit from smart land use is the passion of Molly Burhans—a shining example of the Catholic marriage of faith and reason, all brought together for the good of the world.

Burhans wants to help her fellow Catholics be better disciples of Jesus Christ by better managing their real estate.

And that’s one thing the Church has a lot of.

By most estimates, the Catholic Church is one of the largest landowners in the world with some 177 million acres of land in its parishes, schools, universities, monasteries, cemeteries, dioceses, and retreat centers. This land is found in almost every ecosystem and nation of the globe.

In the modern world, managing this amount of real estate takes digital tools—the sorts used by governments, non-governmental agencies, and the private sector. But what about the Church? What of its parishes—large and small—and its other communal institutions? How can they—we—benefit from such tools and mapping?

That’s where Burhans and her team come in.

Analysis: Reasons why Friday’s climate plea did not include representatives of the United States church.

Unlike a joint statement of global bishops issued before the groundbreaking Paris climate accord three years ago, Friday’s statement—again aimed at upcoming international climate talks—didn't include representatives of the United States.

Given the U.S. government’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, eco-advocates were hoping that US bishops would sign on to Friday's statement.

But that didn't happen.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the U.S.-based Catholic Climate Covenant—a group that works closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—stressed prior climate statements by the US church.

“The U.S. bishops pushed back hard against the Trump Administration's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement and continue to weigh in with the administration on the rollbacks of key environmental regulations,” Misleh told Catholic Ecology. “They will continue to support international and domestic efforts that reduce climate change and its impacts, especially on the poor and vulnerable.”

Misleh noted that the United States bishops were among the first episcopal conferences to issue a statement on climate change in 2001 and have had an environmental justice office for over 25 years. And they’ve helped establish and continued to support Catholic Climate Covenant, the only...

Signed today, an appeal by six presidents of continental bishops’ conferences calls on government for action weeks before international climate talks

In the context of a recent United Nation’s report on the urgent need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, Church leaders today signed a statement calling the world's governments to work towards an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement for the people and the planet.

In short, they ask for the next United Nations climate change conference, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, in December, to achieve bold steps toward the goals of the 2015 international agreement forged in Paris.

The appeal was presented today in Rome and signed by Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, President, CCEE, Archbishop of Genoa; Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, FABC, Archbishop of Mumbai; Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, President, FCBCO, Archbishop of Suva; Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President, COMECE, Archbishop of Luxembourg; Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, President, SECAM, Archbishop of Lubango; and by Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, President, CELAM, Archbishop of Bogota.

“Their inspiration comes from the work done on the ground by the many courageous actors within and beyond Catholic communities, who are spreading the Pope’s messages of Laudato Si’,” said a statement by the Catholic charitable umbrella group “Coopération Internationale pour le Développement...

The papacy of Saint John Paul II brought concern for creation into the Church in bold, new ways

On October 16, 1978, the College of Cardinals elected Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła the 263rd Successor of Saint Peter. His papacy had immense impacts on the world and on the life of a troubled Church—including bringing eco-concerns deep within Church teachings.

His first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, "The Redeemer of Man," places eco concerns into a powerful, theological text—a forerunner for the many words Pope John Paul II would write and speak about ecology throughout his papacy. Words that created a foundation for his successors.

The Redeemer of the world! In him has been revealed in a new and more wonderful way the fundamental truth concerning creation to which the Book of Genesis gives witness when it repeats several times: "God saw that it was good". The good has its source in Wisdom and Love. In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man—the world that, when sin entered, "was subjected to futility"—recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love. Indeed, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son". As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was



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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.