Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Greg J. Markey

1/22/2010 (4 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 (4 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Following Ferguson shooting, police departments rush to adopt body cameras Watch

Image of The purchasing of body cameras by police departments nationwide has increased dramatically following the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Whether you believe the story told by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, or by the family of Michael Brown, it is certain that the case has changed the face of law enforcement in America. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of body cameras by police ... continue reading


Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 20:1-4, 11--21:2
1 Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:29-33
29 And he told them a parable, 'Look at the fig tree ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 28th, 2014 Image

St. Catherine Laboure
November 28: St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter