Cardinal Müller: “The best protector of the environment … is he who proclaims the Good News that there is survival with God alone.”

In a wide-ranging ordination homily, Cardinal Gerhard Müller highlights the Catholic contribution to eco-protection: sound doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Church's history, whenever some deep disagreement arises, the words of cardinals, bishops, and those of the reigning pontiff help sort out who thinks what, and why.

Living in an age of competing views of what the Church is and how she is to subsist within the secular, it’s become a fulltime job to analyze the various statements, homilies, and writings coming at us these past few months at the unprecedented speed of the internet.

One particular homily, given on September 15 by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, deserves attention for how it places eco-protection into the context of our Catholic faith.

The entire homily can be read at Catholic World Report. Here, however, is the paragraph that draws the attention of Catholic Ecologists:

For the real danger for humanity today consists in the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and of moral decay, when no one any longer knows or teaches the difference between good and evil. The best protector of the environment and friend of nature is he who proclaims the Good News that there is survival with God alone: not only a limited survival, for the near future, but an eternal one, forever.

The entire homily is stunning. Cardinal Müller’s insistence that we not place in opposition Christ the Good Shepherd and Christ the teacher of divine truth is an important observation for everyone, especially for Catholic ecologists, for the very reasons that the cardinal made clear: “The best protector of the environment and friend of nature is he who proclaims the Good News that there is survival with God alone.”

Pope Francis makes a similar statement in Laudato Si’:

A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the “Thou” of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence. (119)

In other words, what Catholics bring to the arena of environmental protection is not more of the same. Rather, as both Pope Francis and Cardinal Müller remind us, it’s the notion that before we can save the planet, we must first preach the good news that saves souls.

Photo: Flicker/michael_swan

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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.