Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/4/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We should begin with the teaching of the Church as we exercise prudential judgment in evaluating this entire area of legitimate concern, as we do in other important areas. I eagerly await this letter from Pope Francis of Rome on a Catholic Way of being green.

The Catholic Church has been green for a lot longer than any modern environmental movement. We are called to what I call a relational environmentalism; one of stewardship with the earth which God has made and entrusted to us to care for and to share. For those eager to understand Catholic teaching on this vital topic, we should always begin with scripture and tradition. We have a wellspring of teaching in the Church on our relationship to the gift of God's creation and our responsibility to receive it, protect it and share it. The concern I have about some of the arguments concerning global warming or climate change is that they promote one more charged right vs. left political food fight. Sadly, they too often use sometimes conflicting scientific data as fodder for the fight. We are not first political conservatives or liberals, we are first, last and all in between, Catholic.

The recent popes have articulated a vision of what they have called a human ecology. It is a great term which should be adopted by all Christians who seek to enter into the public discourse on this vital topic. I suggest that Catholics, who truly want to inform their own thinking on this often controversial topic of climate change, spend some time prayerfully reading and reflecting on the insights of their own Church before embracing the increasingly loaded language of the climate change debate.

The recent popes have articulated a vision of what they have called a human ecology. It is a great term which should be adopted by all Christians who seek to enter into the public discourse on this vital topic. I suggest that Catholics, who truly want to inform their own thinking on this often controversial topic of climate change, spend some time prayerfully reading and reflecting on the insights of their own Church before embracing the increasingly loaded language of the climate change debate.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/4/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Deacon Keith Fournier, green, climate change, global warming, environment, earth day, Pope Francis, grammar of nature, ecology, human ecology, new encyclical


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The rumors now seem to be more than rumors. Reliable sources indicate that Pope Francis is preparing his newest contribution in writing, perhaps an encyclical letter, on the topic of the environment, and our obligations to receive creation as both gift and trust.

At the beginning of the year, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that the Pope had begun the work. What is clear is that Pope Francis will continue to develop the teaching trajectory of his friend and predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict.

The upcoming letter will focus on many themes. They will most certainly include creation as a gift that is given to us by the Creator, our call as stewards of that gift, and our obligations in solidarity to one another. 

In his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2014, entitled Fraternity as the Foundation and Pathway to Peace, Francis offered these insightful words which indicate where his thought on this vital topic is gravitating:

Fraternity helps to preserve and cultivate nature. The human family has received from the Creator a common gift: nature. The Christian view of creation includes a positive judgment about the legitimacy of interventions on nature if these are meant to be beneficial and are performed responsibly, that is to say, by acknowledging the "grammar" inscribed in nature and by wisely using resources for the benefit of all, with respect for the beauty, finality and usefulness of every living being and its place in the ecosystem.

Father Lombardi said in an interview for Vatican Radio that the Holy father "intends to put particular emphasis on the theme of "human ecology," a phrase used by Pope Benedict to describe not only how people must defend and respect nature but how the nature of the person - masculine and feminine as created by God - must also be defended."

This affirmation is consistent with a theme which I have often addressed, there is a Catholic Way of being green.

Our obligation to live out a proper stewardship of the environment is grounded in our obligation to - and solidarity with - one another. It begins with the understanding that we have been given to one another as gifts. In addition, creation is a gift, entrusted to us together as a human community. That brings with it responsibilities, which we must find a way to share, for the true common good.

In a letter on the environment released on January 1, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict explained: There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person."

If the Church's magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things."

In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the "dignity" of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.

With his characteristic clarity, Benedict XVI encouraged a proper approach to creation and exposed the dangers within certain streams of contemporary environmentalism. So too will his successor, Francis.

In fact, such an approach is consistent with the very name he chose for his pontificate. Despite efforts to romanticize his namesake's love for creation, it too was rooted in this kind of integrated Catholic Vision on creation as a gift and the dignity of the human person. It was rooted in a human ecology.

Over the last two years, Catholic Online has published a series of articles which purported to offer a kind of point/counterpoint on the controversial topic of climate change or global warming. I did not write any of them. I do not share much of the alarm sounded over climate change, even in some of those articles written by a colleague.  In fact, I disagree with much of what I believe was an overreaction to climate change.

However, I do believe we have an obligation to care for the creation - which we have abused. It is a part of our Baptismal obligation and our call to discipleship.  What is called global warming or climate change is one of those areas where the exercise of prudential judgment can find good Catholics and other Christians differing with one another. When we do, we should do so with charity.

The Catholic Church has been green for a lot longer than any modern environmental movement. We are called to what I call a relational environmentalism; one of stewardship with the earth which God has made and entrusted to us to care for and to share. For those eager to understand Catholic teaching on this vital topic, we should always begin with scripture and tradition.

We have a wellspring of teaching in the Church on our relationship to the gift of God's creation and our responsibility to receive it, protect it and share it. The concern I have about some of the arguments concerning global warming or climate change is that they promote one more charged right vs. left political food fight.

Sadly, they too often use sometimes conflicting scientific data as fodder for the fight. We are not first political conservatives or liberals, we are first, last and all in between, Catholic.

In addition to affirming our obligations as stewards of the gift of creation, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church warns about such a misguided approach. For example in paragraph # 463 we read:

A correct understanding of the environment prevents the utilitarian reduction of nature to a mere object to be manipulated and exploited.'

At the same time, it must not absolutize nature and place it above the dignity of the human person himself. In this latter case, one can go so far as to divinize nature or the earth, as can readily be seen in certain ecological movements that seek to gain an internationally guaranteed institutional status for their beliefs.


The Magisterium finds the motivation for its opposition to a concept of the environment based on ecocentrism and on biocentrism in the fact that "it is being proposed that the ontological and axiological difference between men and other living beings be eliminated, since the biosphere is considered a biotic unity of undifferentiated value. Thus man's superior responsibility can be eliminated in favor of an egalitarian consideration of the 'dignity' of all living beings.

Some in what has been called the green movement have lost their way. The most obvious example is the inherent contradiction of worrying about polluting the atmosphere with toxic chemicals while at the same time supporting making toxic chemicals available to be ingested by mothers, including girls, in order to kill the children in their womb. We need a new way of being green, a Catholic way.

We need a Catholic Environmental vision which is pro-life, pro-person, pro-family, pro-poor, pro-peace and fundamentally relational. We are to receive one another as gifts. We must never use human persons as objects. We should receive creation as a gift, our common home, to be shared with one another, and not as an object of use.

The recent popes have articulated a vision of what they have called a human ecology. It is a great term which should be adopted by all Christians who seek to enter into the public discourse on this vital topic.
 
I suggest that Catholics, who truly want to inform their own thinking on this often controversial topic of climate change, spend some time prayerfully reading and reflecting on the insights of their own Church before embracing the increasingly loaded language of the climate change debate.

We should begin with the teaching of the Church as we exercise prudential judgment in evaluating this entire area of legitimate concern, as we do in other important areas.  I eagerly await this letter from Pope Francis of Rome on a Catholic Way of being green. 

---


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


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More U.S.

Lower Your Nets For a Catch! We Are All Called to Evangelize Watch

Image of Lower your nets for a catch

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The New Evangelization is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical ... continue reading


'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


Phony priest celebrated masses, funerals and performed marriages - for more than 20 years! Watch

Image of Operating out of St. Ignatius of Loyola in northeastern Los Angeles, Erwin Mena allegedly sold tickets to a pilgrimage to visit New York to see the Pope during his visit to the United States last year (Facebook).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

He might have talked a good talk and walked a good walk, but authorities finally caught up with fifty-nine-year-old Erwin Mena, who posed as a priest for more than 20 years in Los Angeles. Mena was arrested and will enjoy a lot of time in small rooms - with bars on the ... continue reading


'Christian Refugees 2 Christian Nations, Muslim Refugees 2 Muslim Nations, That's Only Fair': Protesters rally in Missoula County Courthouse Watch

Image of Protesters stand in snow (not pictured) to stand against new influx of refugees into America (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In an effort to ease the strain on other countries who have accempted several thousand refugees, the Obama administration plans to send refugees to smaller Montana cities. Over 120 Montana citizens faced snow and ice on Monday to protest outside the Missoula County ... continue reading


Why did secret Muslim Obama visit a controversial mosque? Watch

Image of Why is Obama visiting a mosque with questionable ties?

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President Obama is visiting a controversial mosque in Baltimore today, one that has ties to Islamic extremism. Even fellow Muslims are upset that he chose the Islamic Society of Baltimore for his visit, when he could have chosen more "moderate" mosques. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


In the minds of murderers: 9/11 began with a small question and grew to a national tragedy Watch

Image of 9/11 was based on a flight that crashed into the sea (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The horrific tragedy of 9/11 was reportedly started when Osama bin Laden heard of the murder-suicide on EgyptAir Flight 990. The plane's pilot crashed into the ocean, prompting bin Laden to wonder why he didn't choose to crash into a building. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


What does the Super Bowl have to do with the Catholic Church? Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Who else is facing off during the Super Bowl? Catholic Charities. Whether fans are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Super Bowl 50, Catholic Charities of Denver, Colorado, and Charlotte, South Carolina are uniting to host ... continue reading


Did the Groundhog see his shadow? 6 fun facts about Groundhog Day you never knew before Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The fate between winter and spring anxiously awaited the arrival of the weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. The furry groundhog emerged from his hole on February 2 in search of a shadow ... that he never found. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According ... 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, Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8
1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord seated on a high and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 [Of David] I thank you, Yahweh, with all my heart, for you have ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:1-11
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:1-11
1 I want to make quite clear to you, brothers, what the message of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 7th, 2016 Image

St. Moses
February 7: Arab hermit and bishop who is called "the Apostle ... Read More