Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Greg J. Markey

1/22/2010 (5 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 (5 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

America's MOST and LEAST patriotic states in 2015 Watch

Image of Virginia [not pictured] has been named the most patriotic state.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recent American pride survey, published on June 29, 2015, revealed Virginia to be at the top of the current list of the most patriotic states in the USA. WalletHub, a consumer website, evaluated the military and civic engagement of all 50 states, included in the ... continue reading


The Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul Invites Us Into a New Missionary Age Watch

Image of On this great Feast we need to rededicate ourselves to being true witnesses, with an adult faith, willing to participate fully in this new missionary age of the Catholic Church. May the blood of the Martyrs continue to be the seed of the Church. St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Since at least the Third Century, Christians have commemorated this day as a Solemnity, the day when the two pillars of the Church, the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, met the Lord whom they served with such beauty, face to face in the communion of eternal love. ... continue reading


Junior lifeguard competition cancelled after 15 great white sharks spotted swimming near shore in California beach Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The NorCal Junior Lifeguards competition was cancelled following the reported sightings of at least 15 great white sharks swimming near the shore in Aptos, Santa Cruz. Helicopters and boats were sent off to determine the situation before the event, confirming that ... continue reading


Fear of ISIS expansion along U.S. border grows Watch

Image of The fear of the ISIS breaching security in the southern borders of the U.S. is being addressed by the government.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States is considering the possible breach in the security of its southern borders. With drugs, illegal immigrants and several illegal activities being localized in this area, the militant group, ISIS may actually target this region for their terrorist plans. ... continue reading


United States Population: More minority children than whites, more whites dying than being born Watch

Image of Minority children are currently dominating the number of native Americans in the US.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States' population is composed of Americans and millions of immigrants and foreigners considered to be part of the "minority group." As the years pass, the American population is now starting to become dominated by the "minority group."roup. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


8-year-old boy bitten by shark in knee-deep water, fourth case over past two weeks in NC Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A frantic 911 call was made after an 8-year-old boy was bitten by a shark while swimming in knee-deep water at a beach in North Carolina. During the emergency call, the boy is heard screaming, as the caller tells the operator that his foot has punctured holes and ... continue reading


California legislature's who HATE Catholics want Father Juniper Serra statue OUT of Capitol Watch

Image of Bl. Junipero Serra played a leading role in California history, helping to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and teaching them new technologies.

By CNA/EWTN News

A statue of Franciscan missionary and saint-to-be Father Junipero Serra has stood in the U.S. Capitol since 1931, but its future may depend on an upcoming hearing in the California legislature and the success of a "Let's Save Serra" campaign. SACRAMENTO, CA ... continue reading


HERE COMES THE POPE - As many as 1.5 million faithful expected to greet Pope Francis in Philadelphia in September Watch

Image of More than 1.5 million people are expected for the Mass with Pope Francis in at that time. About 12,000 people were registered for the congress earlier this month.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Excitement is building for the visit from Pope Francis in Philadelphia this coming September. The Pope will be there for the once-every-three-years World Meeting of Families from September 22 through 25. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput met with the Pope after the ... continue reading


At least 10 Islamic State suspects living in the U.S. arrested by FBI Watch

Image of The FBI is targeting individuals thought to be planning attacks in the U.S. The bureau is concentrating on direct arrests in lieu of surveillance.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In response to a perception of increased attacks on U.S. soil by Islamic State - following the thwarted attack in the "Draw Muhammad" contest in Garland, Texas -- the FBI has rounded up more potential "lone wolf" terrorists with ties to ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Homosexuals welcome to greet Pope in Philadelphia - but they cannot seize event to protest Watch

Image of Currently, the only event dedicated to gay issues at the event features the founder of the Spiritual Friendship Initiative Ron Belgau, a celibate gay Catholic.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archbishop Charles Chaput says that homosexuals will be welcome to attend the Catholic family congress in Philadelphia when Pope Francis visits the U.S. September. However - they cannot use the event to attack the church's teachings, he says. LOS ANGELES, CA ... 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, Genesis 19:15-29
15 When dawn broke the angels urged Lot on, 'To your ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12
2 Probe me, Yahweh, examine me, Test my heart and my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:23-27
23 Then he got into the boat followed by his ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 30th, 2015 Image

First Martyrs of the See of Rome
June 30: The holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of ... 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