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There are reasons why gatherings during Earth Hour look a lot like the Easter Vigil

When Earth Hour roams across the globe for its annual outing on Saturday night, Catholics will be opening Holy Week. This rare confluence is providential. It calls attention to what the secular event shares with the Gospel—especially its message of sacrifice and of the true light that enters the world.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour asks people, institutions, and iconic structures to shut off their lights on a given day for one hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. This year the day is Saturday, March 28th—the vigil of Palm Sunday. According to the organization’s website, Earth Hour is a “collective display of our commitment to creating a better future for the planet.”

Earth Hour asks us to disrupt the status quo of our Enlightened world. It asks us to do without the artificial light of our own creation.

I once thought Earth Hour was just another gimmick. I thought that even with all its group celebrations and the darkening of places like San Francisco’s Ghirardelli’s Square, London's Big Ben, and even St. Peter's Basilica, it offered little meaning to the complex problems of the age. But I’ve grown fond of Earth Hour. And the timing...

The Global Catholic Climate Movement offers a voice to those who simply wish to be heard

Building off its successful, ongoing Lenten fast—with people from individual nations fasting every day in Lent—the Global Catholic Climate Movement today took a more active approach to getting things done: They issued a petition on its new website to offer a voice to many who wish to be heard.

At first glance, the petition seems blunt in asking world leaders to attempt to meet a specific goal:

Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people. Impelled by our Catholic faith, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.

The GCCM (of which I am a founding member) adopted the benchmark of 1.5°C because it is an accepted convention being offered by scientists and others around the world. That degree-and-a-half of thermal energy is the amount of warming presumed to be about as high as you want to go before global systems begin to shift even more dramatically than people around the world are already observing.

World leaders can’t tweak every variable that affects global...

The Feast of St. Joseph marks the anniversary of Pope Francis’s foundational demands for the Church

Two years ago today on the Feast of St. Joseph, Pope Francis gave his inaugural homily in St. Peter’s Square. In it, he famously exhorted the Church to be like the humble foster father of Christ and be a “protector” in every meaning of the word.

That includes, of course, protecting nature. But according to Pope Francis, this means more than we may think.

“The vocation of being a ‘protector’ … means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us,” the Holy Father preached.

And then he went on:

It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In

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Mary Taylor offers invaluable words on Catholic contributions to ecology

Following last week’s pivotal speech by Cardinal Peter Turkson in Ireland, another Catholic voice continues the cardinal’s momentum with an essay published earlier today at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Religion and Ethics website.

Mary Taylor’s “'Love that Moves the Sun': Catholicism's Deeper Ecology—A Response to Clive Hamilton” continues the task of presenting for public consumption the great extent of Catholicism’s contributions to ecology—and to a whole lot more.

Taylor holds a doctorate in philosophy and is a consulting editor of Communio: International Catholic Review. Her ABC essay, based on one published in Communio in 2011, is a response to an analysis of what Pope Francis has been offering to ecological matters. That essay, also published by ABC Religion and Ethics, was by Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University.

Both Hamilton and Taylor say much and their word counts far exceed what most online publications allow. But the folks at ABC aren’t afraid of offering in-depth contributions—and we are better off for it.

Using the likes of Dante and Heidegger to illustrate her many points, Taylor takes her environmental discourse into the...

This Lent, Catholics everywhere are fasting to call attention to, and repent for, climate change

As Laetare Sunday draws to a close, Catholics and others in my home nation of the United States will begin a fast for climate change. Catholics in two dozen nations have fasted since Ash Wednesday and those in another twenty three will do so before Easter. That’s a blessed amount of sacrifice for a problem that unites the globe.

The "Lenten Fast for Climate Justice" is being organized by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which is partnering with groups such as the trailblazing Fast for Climate Change, an inter-faith group, and others, such as the Green Anglican Carbon Fast.

For its part, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, or “GCCM,” as it’s called, is coordinating a fast to help participants “grow in virtue so that (by the grace of God) we can overcome sin, even modern ones like climate change.”

With a small group of volunteers from around the globe, the GCCM is offering to support Catholics everywhere who are working on the front lines to engage the issue of climate change. It's also seeking to rally the faithful to prayer and action. The Lenten fast is the organization's first global campaign to...

Clerics and Catholic development agencies urge European Union to act from the common good

“New rules are urgently needed to ensure that the bounty of God’s creation does not serve unquestioning consumption while underwriting the destruction of life.” Joint Statement of Catholic Bishops.

The lack of legal frameworks to protect miners and mineral-rich regions in the developing world have prompted dozens of Catholic bishops to demand an end to exploitative practices. This comes as the European Union struggles to better regulate mining trade between the wealthy and the poor in the public and private spheres.

In a statement first released last fall—which has continued to draw attention—the bishops call for “Earth’s resources [to] be managed wisely by good stewards, with assurances for people at both ends of today’s global supply chains that join us as to the morality of our trading system.”

In other words, meeting the growing demands of consumers—especially for rare metals used in jewelry and electronics—must come by meeting the demands of the Gospel.

The statement and ongoing outreach efforts have been facilitated by the umbrella Catholic development group CIDSE (Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité or International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.)

“The signatories warn that European citizens...

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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.