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"Pregnant women in the U.S. are exposed to multiple chemicals. Further efforts are warranted to understand sources of exposure and implications for policy-making."

This concludes a report in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The study created something of a stir in the media. USA Today reported Study finds toxic chemicals in pregnant womens' bodies, and the LA Times What pregnant women don't know they're carrying -- toxic chemicals, new study finds. TIME headlined their story Pregnant Women Awash in Chemicals. Is That Bad for Baby?

Reviewing the news stories is telling: TIME ponders the effects of these toxins on the baby. Same for the Washington Post's blog. But the LA Times wonders “about the potential ramifications on those fetuses.” Likewise, the San Francisco Chronicle notes “the potential for exposure to multiple chemicals to...

One trend you'll see accelerate in 2011 is news of Catholic leaders—indeed, members of all faiths—warning their flocks about climate change.

Take, for instance, the Holy Father, who as recently as October, in a speech given at a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, said that "today we see that with the climate problems, the foundations of the earth are threatened, threatened by our behavior."

Following this were his comments in Light of the World, his book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald. When asked about the resistance that governments and cultures are demonstrating in dealing with (or even accepting) climate change, the Holy Father, in part, responded

to this extent a certain potential for moral insight is present. But the conversion of this into political will and political actions is then rendered largely impossible by the lack of willingness to do without.

And then,

...

After I finished tossing about a foot of snow with my snow blower earlier this evening, I stood quietly to survey my work. The day’s Nor’easter was retreating, leaving remnants of squalls far above me. They were lit with an emerging half moon, giving the sky a milky glaze. Gusts animated the snow on my roof, casting some on my front walk.

Then all went quiet, and I remembered one of my favorite sayings by Mother Teresa. 

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

How true. There is a particular quality of nature’s silence that the human soul needs desperately. It is a craving that we often deny ourselves, to our peril.

That’s why I so dearly love clearing snow after a winter’s night storm. For the record, a plow service does the real work;...

Here's a very helpful 10-minute interview with environmental justice advocate, Notre Dame's Kristin Shrader-Frechette. The interview is compliments of U.S. Catholic.


In the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, we recognize the power and meaning of our own baptism. We also come to understand how God uses ordinary matter in His sacraments—like water, bread, wine and us—and makes it extraordinary.

From the Church's catechism (§1238) on baptism, we read that "The Church asks God that, through his Son, the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be 'born of water and the Spirit.'"

Sacramentally, water has become a pathway to eternal life—as here, now, in this fallen world, it is a pathway to biological life. Sadly, water is scarce in too many places, and as this report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us, this scarcity leads to horrible human suffering.

Water is vital for sustaining the life of each person, for sustaining health and socio-economic well-being, and for making possible the very existence of life on our planet. The total amount of water on Planet Earth is fixed. Of the world’s

...

January 2011

Working in government allows one to see Original Sin in dreadfully evident ways. As we read too often in the papers, careers in “civil service” can easily become a means to selfish ends. As a government official myself, I can attest firsthand that many who make civil service a vocation on any level could learn a thing or two from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know I can.

But then there are the often under-reported stories of someone doing something right.

My agency, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, recently saw its director, Dr. W. Michael Sullivan—who was appointed by Governor Carcieri some five years ago—step down for Governor Chafee’s choice for the position. Changes in leadership can be exciting for staff staying on, but for the person saying goodbye, such transitions might be distressing, a time of turning inward or walking away in a huff. This possibility makes the story of a last...

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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.