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The troubled release of a scientific report demonstrates how truth and human life suffer from ideological blind spots

Chilling. That was the word used most often today to describe what many are calling the silencing of Environmental Protection Agency scientists by the Trump administration.

As reported Sunday by the New York Times, the rollout of a report by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP) was to have included a keynote address by EPA researcher Autumn Oczkowski, but sometime on Friday the NBEP was told that Oczkowski could not attend. Most speculate that Oczkowski’s work on climate impacts to Narragansett Bay was incompatible with the Trump administration’s denial of climate change, and she was thus removed by EPA headquarters from the rollout.

Two other EPA scientists were also to have spoken on panel discussions, but like Oczkowski were told by EPA that they could not do so.

The event, which I attended, went forward anyway. Standing in for Oczkowski’s keynote was Dr. Robinson “Wally” Fulweiler of Boston University. While Fulweiler noted afterward that her talk was not the specific address that was to be given by Oczkowski, it was nonetheless based on research that Oczkowski, Fulweiler, and others had undertaken on the complex estuary of Narragansett Bay, and the many impacts, including climate...

Father John Baker, along with one other priest, deacon, and religious sisters, stayed in Key West to minister to souls during and after Irma barreled through

Friday night I received an email from a friend and pastor here in the Diocese of Providence. “Please keep [Father] John Baker in your prayers,” he wrote. “He won't evacuate because he wants to be available for his parishioners who can't evacuate.”

The news about Father Baker, the pastor of The Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea in Key West, received national attention with this story in from Catholic News Service. According to the story,

Baker, who has weathered a number of storms, said he and another priest at the parish were staying “to be present” with those who stayed on the island.

… The basilica, built in 1904, has never been damaged by a hurricane.

I posted the news on Facebook, which prompted one friend to comment, “Not smart.”

Here was my response:

I was startled too when I first heard this Friday from a priest friend, who knows Father Baker well. But not so much now. Especially in light of today's Mass readings. I guess it's a different kind of smart than the worldly kind. Father Baker is from Rhode Island and is known by folks here. He's more

A historic joint statement on ecology by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew kicks off the ecumenical Season of Creation

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have issued a bold and beautiful statement today to acknowledge World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The brief declaration—the first of its kind—challenges Christians to maintain pray front and center in their eco-protection efforts.

“We know that we labor in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps. 126-127), if prayer is not at the center of our reflection and celebration,” the statement reads.

While many secular and Catholic eco-advocates will emphasize the statement’s political overtones, the document first and foremost calls Christians, and all those of good will, to the realization that human nature must first be baptized with God’s grace before it can save the world from its fallen state.

In short, the statement should be read with the following these three principles in mind:

Revelation is key to understanding where we are today. The statement's reading of the creation accounts in Genesis is not offered with mere sentimentality, as can so often happen. Rather, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew dive deep into God’s revealed truths. These include the weighty responsibilities of being cooperators with God’s will, as well as the consequences of...

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s “The Power of Silence” has much to offer Catholic eco-advocates

It’s summer here in the States. A time for front porches at twilight. For rummaging through gardens collecting cucumbers, blueberries, and black-eyed Susans. A time for walking the beach, or reading in the shade of trees—perhaps reading Robert Cardinal Sarah’s new book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press).

This is a book I cannot recommend enough. Its thesis is simple, offered in the first few pages, set in a monastery in winter. It echoes through many seasons and topics, informing them, and us. Cardinal Sarah is candid with his warnings against our age of noise, and he comforts us—and challenges us—with what our Catholic faith brings to the world.

Cardinal Sarah of Guinea, age 72, is the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He is loved by many (myself included) and he concerns others for urging priests to celebrate Mass ad orientum and for his general calls to reverence in Catholic liturgical practices.

He is a cardinal that history will remember—perhaps someday for being elected the Successor of Saint Peter, or at least for his presence and his words, which arouse such thoughts. Here we come...

Protecting life and the planet means following laws that we may not like

A big part of my job is saying ‘no.’ No, you can’t sit for the Grade Four exam. No, you can't be a superintendent with your current license. No, you cannot cut costs by ignoring your discharge permit.

As we hear often in catechetical and apologetic circles, saying ‘no’ is usually just a way to say ‘yes’ to something else. God gave a pretty clear ‘no’ to Adam and Eve in order to protect them—to keep them alive. But hearing ‘no’—even if framed as a ‘yes’—isn’t easy. Especially in cultures like mine where everyone seems to have been raised expecting that they'll always get their way.

This gets us to the big news today: President Trump’s reinstatement of a ban on transgendered people from military service. The announcement resulted in the usual explosive fury from the left, which was then magnified by mainstream and social media. (Which is why I’ll be refraining from checking my Facebook news feed until the weekend.)

Criticisms of the administration’s decision were to be expected, of course, but not for reasons that have to do with facts. Expressing some variant of the word ‘no’ was enough to send many into a tizzy.

This got me...

Noted theologian Erin Lothes gives us much to ponder about this Sunday's readings

Dr. Erin Lothes, a theologian at the College of Saint Elizabeth, stepped in front of the camera recently to reflect on the readings of the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Anyone familiar with Dr. Lothes' work on ecology and energy won't be surprised that she ponders these readings in light of the eco-issues of our age—and she asks the same of us.

The venue is the online Catholic Women Preach, which hosts women from diverse backgrounds to share their unique voices with the world.

And now, with no further interruption...


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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.