Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Greg J. Markey

1/22/2010 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

My first direct experience with the environmental movement came when I graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1991.

The new movie Avatar is dazzling crowds around the world with its never seen before special effects and breaking records for its box office success.

The new movie Avatar is dazzling crowds around the world with its never seen before special effects and breaking records for its box office success.

Highlights

By Fr. Greg J. Markey

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/22/2010 (6 years ago)

Published in U.S.


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (Catholic Online) - The new movie Avatar is dazzling crowds around the world with its never seen before special effects, and breaking records for its box office success. Almost as popular as the movie is the coverage of the Vatican's rather measured criticism of the movie. From what I pulled off the internet, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, says that the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature."

Similarly, Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium...Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship." The Vatican's review raises a number of interesting issues about the dramatic rise in environmentalism in recent years, and whether environmentalism is becoming a form of pseudo-religion.

My first direct experience with the environmental movement came when I graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1991. I finished with a degree in Political Science and was very interested in getting involved in government. Like most college graduates, it was a time of high ideals for me in my life, and the desire to make a difference in the world. I found a job in downtown Boston working for an environmental lobbying organization, trying to pass environmental legislation on the state level in Massachusetts. Making the world a cleaner place seemed like a noble sentiment to me.

However, within months it became clear that something was not quite right with the organization. While we worked a full week at raising money and awareness about environmental legislation, the directors would then ask us to work on weekends without pay, declaring, "Big business is still polluting on the weekend, we can't stop working either."

At times it even appeared to me like a religious cult, especially when the directors were trying to regulate who I was socializing with outside of work. The correctness of my decision to leave the organization was confirmed when I told my boss that I was resigning. He then began to shed tears in front of me. Afterwards I felt fortunate to have escaped!

Having a healthy respect for creation is an important part of being Christian. Sacred Scripture tells us to be good stewards over creation: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves over the earth" (Genesis 1:28).

Furthermore I think most people have given some consideration to the recent "green" movements, such as recycling, organic food, or to the so-called "fears of global warming". Personally I love the outdoors, skiing and hiking, and want to have them preserved. In addition I have seen what happens to the environment when it is not treated well, especially when traveling overseas. For example seeing certain underdeveloped sections of the Dominican Republic where rivers and streets were devastated with filth; or in Haiti, where entire regions have had all their trees cut down without replacement.

Yet I have to wonder whether the sudden boom in the "green" movement is not really motivated by the intrinsic need we all have written on our hearts (Romans 2:15) to know that I am being a good and moral person. The root of the problem is that the 10 Commandments, the traditional social norms to assess one's own moral life for thousands of years, are no longer relevant to society.

Thou shall keep the Sabbath: Who really believes that missing Sunday Mass is gravely immoral anymore? Thou shall not kill: Who really believes that abortion should be prohibited in all cases? Thou shall not commit adultery: Who really believes that pre-marital sex, contraception, divorce and remarriage, are really mortal sins? These violations are so commonplace that they cannot possibly constitute what it means to be a good person. Can so many people be wrong? Therefore we need something else to constitute what it means to be a good person: Go Green!

This is taken to a new level when, as the Vatican review declares, there are forces, such as the subtleties in Avatar, which seek to make environmentalism into a pseudo-religion. For example, there was the anti-SUV ad campaign a few years ago which asked, "What would Jesus drive?" This of course prompted some laughter with responses like, "Perhaps a Christ-ler".

More serious is the widespread practice of yoga and Christians not realizing that yoga, at least in its religious context, is a sin against the First Commandment. Finally, there is the more aggressive behavior of those who claim that, contrary to Sacred Scripture (see Luke 24:42-43, Acts 10:9-16), Jesus never ate meat, and therefore eating meat is a sin.

Enter Pope Benedict XVI. Making statements like, "...the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources...require new efforts of holistic understanding and a new humanistic synthesis" (Caritas in Veritate, 21) has earned the Pope the title in the media, "The Green Pope". For example, Pope Benedict XVI's recent World Peace Day release on January 1, 2010 focused on the "current ecological crisis" and the connection between protecting the environment and working for peace in the world.

However, the Pope's understanding of the environmental question brings a fuller dimension to the discussion than what we normally hear. The Holy Father regularly discusses the centrality of man, referring to a properly understood "human ecology" which is a necessary foundation for the whole environment question.

He writes, "If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology" (Caritas in Veritate, 51).

Having a proper respect for man, the only one of God's creations that is "made in the image and likeness of God" (Genesis 1:26), is the first step in having a proper respect for creation. Quite frankly, any environmental movement that does not begin with the Fifth Commandment "Thou shall not kill" lacks credibility.

How can we save the trees and the whales if we are not willing to save, first and foremost, the baby humans? Once God's Commandments have been established, we will avoid falling into the trap of turning nature into a new divinity; and then we can properly discuss how a healthy diet, exercise, and respect for God's amazing creation should be carried out.

-----

Fr. Greg J. Markey is a priest of the Bridgeport Diocese, and Pastor of St. Mary Church. He is the youngest of 11 children, graduated from Mount Saint Mary Seminary, and was ordained in 1999.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More U.S.

'Let's be clear: these are sacred objects': Catholics side with Native Americans against sale of sacred tribal items Watch

Image of The controversial sale of sacred Native American objects hits home with Catholics (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Native Americans say a French auction house should return their sacred objects set to go on sale, and they have an ally in Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, N.M. Gallup, N.M. (CNA/EWTN News) - "My first reaction to this story was one of great sadness. It's tragic that ... continue reading


The Visitation Continues. Learning to Evangelize from Mary Watch

Image of The visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In the Biblical account, this encounter immediately follows the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and is a fruit of her humble obedient response to the word of God - which she was most certainly attuned to hearing. That response was not a onetime reaction. It ... continue reading


Corpus Christi, The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Watch

Image of There is also an ancient and beautiful custom in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church called the Corpus Christi procession. The consecrated Host, the Body of the Lord, is reposed in what is called a monstrance. The term is derived from a Latin phrase which means to show or reveal.  The faithful process the Body of the Lord through the streets surrounding their church buildings. This Eucharistic procession can be a powerful witness to an age which has lost its sense of the sacred.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We have received the Bread of Heaven. Let us choose to become what we consume. These Feasts are not just rituals on a Church calendar. They are invitations to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, and then offer Him to a world waiting to be born anew. On this Feast of ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives in Military Service Watch

Image of Memorial Day

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I live in Chesapeake, a wonderful city in Southeastern Virginia where there are many members of the military. The parish I serve is an example of this. Every day, I witness the many sacrifices which military families make for our Nation. On this Memorial Day, I ... continue reading


$3,600,000,000,000: the price to repair America Watch

Image of America's infrastructure is in need of improvement. Why isn't this a national priority?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We have money for perpetual war and can afford generous foreign aid, tax subsidies and cuts for the wealthy, but we cannot find the money to fix a pothole or repair a collapsing bridge. This is the sorry state of affairs U.S. infrastructure is in as we let the nation ... continue reading


Violent riot erupts at Trump rally in New Mexico Watch

Image of Unsurprisingly, a Trump rally erupted into a riot in New Mexico (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Protesters at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's New Mexico rally erupted in violent acts including the attempted stoning of police, glass bottles thrown at mounted units and their horses, burning shirts and more. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Record-breaking 38,000 illegal aliens apprehended in the month of April Watch

Image of April 2016 reaches new record for illegal alien apprehensions.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Illegal aliens continue to surge into the United States from the Southwest U.S. border, leading the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) units to announce record-breaking apprehensions in April, 2016. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the U.S. ... continue reading


Edward Nero, arresting officer of Freddie Gray, NOT GUILTY. Will Baltimore erupt once more? Watch

Image of Officer Edward Nero arrives at court. Nero has been acquitted of crimes in the death of Freddie Gray.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The arresting officer in the Freddie Gray case, Edward Nero, has been declared "not guilty" by the judge in his criminal trial. Now, the community waits to see if violence will erupt or if the streets will remain quiet. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Officer ... continue reading


Tell Me About the Trinity: Honoring Jerry and Plumbing the Mystery of God Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

'The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone on Father Daniel Berrigan's Pro-Life Activism Watch

Image of Fr. Daniel Berrigan

By Fr Frank Pavone

Father Berrigan was a radical figure who sent a total of almost seven years in prison.  What many don't realize though is that his activism extended beyond the anti-war movement and into the anti-abortion movement. Believing in what he called a consistent ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Zephaniah 3:14-18,
14 Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult ... Read More

Psalm, Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
2 Look, he is the God of my salvation: I shall have faith and not be ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:39-56
39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 31st, 2016 Image

St. Mechtildis
May 31: Benedictine abbess and miracle worker. She was ... Read More