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The promises of a new liturgical year offer caution and hope for international climate talks

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

As candles of Advent wreathes are lit in Paris this year, others will continue to be lit for the dead and wounded on November 13th. Coming among all this is COP21, which has brought the world together in hopes for a brighter, cleaner future—if only nations and cultures can come to agreements that have been unreachable for decades.

This confluence of worldly matters in the City of Lights should remind us of the need for the Gospel of Life, and why, when Catholics enter the fray of eco-politics, we must not be afraid to let shine the light of Jesus Christ.

As I wrote after the Paris attacks,

the seemingly disparate issues of anthropogenic climate change and extremist violence are rooted

A shoe installation will feature those of Catholic leaders in the wake of the cancellation of Paris's climate march

Pope Francis will be represented at an installation of ‘marching shoes’ in Paris, after agreeing that a pair of shoes bearing his name should join thousands of others donated by Parisians after the cancelation of a huge climate march following the Paris attacks.

The installation in Paris will be one of more than 2,300 events in 150 countries around the world as part of the Global Climate March on the eve of the Paris climate talks. The shoe-in was arranged by the worldwide citizen’s network Avaaz, after police canceled the march planned for Paris, which was expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people. The event is supported by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which has been helping throughout the globe to get Catholic engaged in the global marches.

The Pope, who is currently in Africa, will have a pair of shoes at the installation bearing his name and the inscription Laudato Si' .

The pontiff's shoes will share the spotlight with those of his close friends Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, President of the Pan-Amazonic Church Network (REPAM), and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.


Speaking to the UN in Nairobi, the Bishop of Rome offers some of his most passionate and decisive eco-comments to date

Wrapping up the first day of his apostolic visit to Africa, Pope Francis addressed the United Nations at its headquarters in Nairobi with some of his most spirited and definitive eco-statements thus far in his pontificate and, indeed, in the life of the Church.

The address to an international audience—his first focused almost exclusively on ecology since the issuance of Laudato Si’—continued to refine and expand the integrated Catholic expression of the ecological, social, and moral issues of our time.

In doing so, the pontiff pushed diplomatic etiquette to its limits:

“In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues,” the Holy Father said. “It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.”

The strong language, cheered by many eco-activists, is of course rooted on the Church’s ancient and ongoing observations of sin at play in human history. With her front-line charitable embrace throughout the globe, and the faithful’s cries to their...

Magisterial and lay Catholic eco-activists embrace hope, make final push for COP21

There aren’t many places where Catholics aren’t prepping for Paris. From Princes of the Church to seasoned climate activists to people in the pews stepping for the first time into the fray, Catholics the world over will be making their voice heard at the COP21 international climate talks—and indeed they’ve already begun.

Here’s just some of what’s happening:

The People’s Petitions

With just under 730,000 signatures as I write—and just over 1 million expected by this weekend—the Global Catholic Climate Movement will be joining other faith groups in Paris on Saturday where some 2 million signatures in total will be hand-delivered to United Nations and French officials.

Presenting the Catholic petition will be Brazil’s Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, O.F.M., who famously exhorted Pope Francis hours after his election to not forget the poor. In presenting the GCCM signatures to international officials, Cardinal Hummes will be giving a voice to those of the poor (and the not-so-poor) whose signatures equal a demand that COP21 end with a fair, workable climate treaty.

While the GCCM petition has been signed in over 130 nations, the vast majority has come from the Philippines, thanks to an extraordinary effort by Cardinal Luis...

The Diocese of Providence made waves last week with a night of faith, reason, Laudato Si’, and climate change

It’s been over a week since my home diocese opened its doors to scientists, theologians, and the entire Ocean State community for “Lessons from Laudato Si’: On Climate and the Common Good.” There’s been lots of buzz since then.

First, I have to tell you that as the master of ceremonies I wasn't sure how things looked from the seats. I was paying too much attention to the content, how the audio-visuals were performing, and, of course, the clock.

But afterwards, people spoke kind words—except for one climate-change skeptic who was not happy with the rejection of the Keystone Pipeline. Otherwise it was all good. And over the past week I’ve heard from secular ecologists, state representatives, and a couple of average Catholics that the night was a success.

To help other dioceses and parishes learn from what worked well (and a few things I’d do differently), below are a few thoughts that might prove beneficial.

But before we go further, I have to give great kudos to the staff at the diocese's Office of Faith Formation and at the McVinney Auditorium for doing all the heavy lifting. They were all fantastic.

Okay, here we go:

1. Blend...

Brutal attacks in Paris call into question the future of long-anticipated climate talks—and the role of Christianity in the world

Burying the dead will be the focus in Paris for weeks. Healing the wounded will take longer. This already has some wondering what the impact could be not just to United Nations climate talks, set to begin in the City of Lights on November 30th, but indeed on larger questions that in many ways will influence the future of the world.

As one COP21-watcher put it, Friday’s coordinated attacks have already dimmed the buildup to the climate talks.

Even if the international negotiations take place as planned—a huge task now made more complicated with increased security—the lingering stench of Friday’s massacre will be difficult ignore.

Planned vigils for a sickly planet must now include vigils for those killed at the Bataclan and elsewhere throughout Paris. What should have been a climate of hope in mankind’s ability to unite for the common good will certainly be clouded by the evil wrought upon a good and beautiful people, even if the negotiations may move forward by the civilized world's desire for a response of unity and resolve.

But then, the seemingly disparate issues of anthropogenic climate change and extremist violence are rooted in the same soil. In their own ways,...


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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.