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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 ...

While there’s been no dearth of subjects, blogging has slowed here at Catholic Ecology thanks to many other demands.

From COP24 to Christmas, the Catholic eco-advocacy world has offered much to post about. But the increasing needs of my elderly mom and other writing obligations have slowed things here at Catholic Ecology—for now, anyway.

But I can’t let this week pass without wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas—and to assure you that the ever-popular Ten Best Eco Stories installment for 2018 will be up for New Year’s reading.

For now, I’d like to thank all of you for making Catholic Ecology the go-to blog for bringing the gospel into the eco-issues of our age. And what better time to reflect on that than the Octave of Christmas, when we celebrate the culmination of the coming of the Word into creation.

And so know of my prayers and best wishes for you and yours this Christmas. And stay tuned for the coming recap of a rather important year for us Catholics who care deeply about all things ecology.

Merry Christmas!

In Christ,

Bill P.

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...


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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.