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“The New Climate Economy” conference considers how economies can benefit by supporting ecology

After a week of what seemed to be growing divides between the Vatican and the business world over the issue of climate change, a gathering at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross highlighted the mutual benefits of bridging economic and ecological interests.

Citing the impact that Pope Francis’s encyclical could have on international sustainability and climate talks later this year, organizers of the "New Climate Economy" conference noted worries that “many politicians believe that economic growth and climate change are at odds with each other, and therefore fear taking action.”

Seeking to calm these fears, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace joined forces with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Holy See; the World Resources Institute; and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, a sizeable international coalition seeking to bridge economic and ecological interests. That group’s New Climate Economy Report, for instance, “demonstrates that the goals of improving economic performance and reducing climate risk can complement each other.”

Examining the impacts of the private sector on the environment (and vice versa) is “not an attempt to put anybody down,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the...

Filipino climate activist Yeb Saño kicks off the global “People’s Pilgrimage,” calling attention to the need for climate action

“So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, or we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7

When St. Paul wrote these words, he sought to comfort the church in Corinth about concerns over life and death. Twenty centuries later and just under 10,000 kilometers away, Yeb Saño, the young Filipino diplomat turned climate activist, seeks to comfort a great many worried about climate change by following St. Paul’s words: He is walking by faith.

And in time, so will a great many more, of many faiths.

The People’s Pilgrimage is a global grassroots effort to encourage religious pilgrimages calling attention to climate change. The events are being championed by Our Voices, and international, interfaith group seeking to provide a platform for all peoples to speak out about climate change.

The pilgrimages will involve thousands worldwide who “will set out on journeys, big and small, to visit the places at the heart of the climate crisis,” according to Our Voices. Globally, the pilgrims will walk “to places of hope and resistance, but also to places at...

Human history had one of those silent revolutions last week when the Pope was provided a petition about climate change

My colleagues at the Global Catholic Climate Movement presented Pope Francis last week with our petition to world leaders. The exchange took place in St. Peter's Square after the Holy Father's May 7th Wednesday Audience. The pontiff listened intently. He joked about the group competing with his encyclical. And then he asked his Pontifical Ceremonieri, Monsignor Guillermo Karcher, to sign the petition on his behalf, in accord with papal protocol.

Later the pontiff took a paper version of the petition back to his office to review the names of some who had already signed it.

The implications of this encounter are profound. It shows what happens when Christ’s Church engages worldly ills with trust in God, prayer, fasting, and hard work. The Global Catholic Climate Movement organized worldwide days of fasting throughout Lent and in April spearheaded a prayer campaign for creation. The fruits of all this may, it seems, be seen in their meeting with and support of Pope Francis.

News of the petition's "papal blessing" was embargoed until today, the Feast of the Ascension.

Now this papal encounter has already and will continue to elevate the issue of climate change within...

Have we reached the silly point of speculation about Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical? Many say yes. And some are worried.

“No one should be having any opinions on the thing yet as it hasn't even been published! … [C]an people just wait until it's out?!?!?!?!?!?!?”

That comment, posted on the Catholic Ecology Facebook page last week, about sums up the feelings of many (myself included) who are a little worn out by the juggernaut of speculation over the upcoming encyclical on the environment. Not helping is that many reports and commentary are repetitive and—by accident or design—just plain wrong.

This is becoming an issue.

More than one well-informed eco-theologian I’ve spoken with has noted off-the-record concerns—and the concerns of others—that some in the media and elsewhere are crossing the line of explaining the authentic Catholic view of ecology. They seem to be speaking for the Church in ways that hijack its message in favor of this or that worldly ideology. (As a few academics put it, unless you’re one of the high-level clerics or theologians that assisted with the document’s drafting, you have no idea exactly what it will say—or how it will say it. And those people are not talking.)

Not long ago there wasn’t much of an audience for the Catholic perspective of ecology. And so my habit...

Three very Catholic events took place today. And they can help the mission of all Catholic ecologists.

May, the month of Mary, opens with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This year May 1st falls on a Friday. And that alignment can help us consider how to bring faith to our duties of protecting life on Earth. As always, the Global Catholic Climate Movement has resources and opportunities to do just that.

May is traditionally the month for Marian devotions. This is especially important in 2015 as the Catholic Church anticipates and prepares for Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical. This May, then, is a good time to add or increase the power of the Rosary in our lives and our efforts to protect life on Earth.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement’s prayer resources page offers Rosary meditations (for all four sets of mysteries) that focus on our relationship with nature. Share these meditations with others. Say them for your private Rosaries and in parish holy hours this month. Then let Mary take it from there.

May 1st is the Feast of St. Joseph the worker. That makes him something of a patron for all of us who, each in our own way, work to protect life on Earth. As a carpenter, St....

What can we do when issues like climate change polarize us?

“The wounds that divide us are rooted in the loss of confidence that the members of the household of the faith actually, in fact, love one another.” Most Rev. Daniel Flores, Bishop of Brownsville, Texas

Bishop Flores said this Monday afternoon at a panel on polarization within the Church. The event, held by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society, came at just the right time for Catholic ecologists: The gathering and a subsequent, ongoing conference took place as climate change continued to divide the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

The problems of the day

Five thousand miles from the event at Notre Dame, another gathering was held in Rome. Its purpose was discussions on climate change and sustainable development, among others. Sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity” brought together one-hundred leaders in science, business, diplomacy, and development experts, all from a variety of faiths—including high level officials of the United Nations, most especially its president Ban Ki-moon.

The meeting culminated in this joint declaration. The document stated,...

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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.