If there is one figure in Catholic life inextricably linked with the care and protection of the planet, it is Francis of Assisi
As we approach Earth Day on April 22, expect to hear about St. Francis. If there is one figure in Catholic life inextricably linked with the care and protection of the planet, it is Francis of Assisi. He is often depicted with animals and is famously the author of the Canticle of the Creatures, which praises God by praising creation. Our familiarity with Francis’ works and image obscures the fact that in the arc of Catholic teaching on the natural world, Francis was very much an outlier.
It’s time to rethink the crucifixion, says theologian Elizabeth Johnson.
Care for creation often falls low on the list of priorities for the majority of Christians, with many even vocal that environmental stewardship isn’t a Christian call. There’s something deeply wrong with that, says Elizabeth A. Johnson, one of the church’s foremost theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Our country relies on rural communities for everything from food to manufactured goods, yet many rural Catholics feel like second-class citizens.
“Rural matters,” says James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life. For 94 years, this organization has bridged the gap between urban and rural Catholics and served the unique needs of the Catholic Church in rural America.
Good Catholic theology always has the earth in mind, says theologian Celia Deane-Drummond.
Theology professor Celia Deane-Drummond thinks creation care is just good theology. “It’s a fundamental part of our faith,” she says. “It’s not just a marginal extra. It’s actually integral to how we think about who we are as human beings.”
Deane-Drummond goes one step further: Not only is environmental justice an intrinsic part of being a person of faith, faith is a necessary tool to understanding our present environmental crisis. She believes that while science can tell what’s gone wrong in our world, it can’t motivate people to change. This is where religion comes in.
From dust we have come and to dust we shall return. That is essentially not true for plastics.
Practicing Catholics the world over understand the importance of giving up something for Lent. The typical Lenten sacrifice includes perennial favorites such as giving up candy or swearing off swearing, but Lenten offerings also change with the times, reflecting technological and cultural shifts. Contemporary Lenten fasting could include forgoing that extravagant morning mocha latte or abstaining from the social media that distract us from our interior lives or from “interfacing” with humanoids in the real world.
From seed to plant to mulch—the life cycles of a garden have a lot in common with those in our own lives.
I am in my garden, squatting in the dirt like a medieval peasant, as around me rise the complex smells of lichen and mineral, exhalations of earthworm and beetroot. The job for this day is planting sweet corn by hand, which means poking each kernel down into its own secret burrow, each tiny, wrinkled corpse into a solitary tomb, but with hope of resurrection.
Our faith is too important to let slip.
We all know the routine once Christmas enters the rearview mirror. Maybe we packed on a few holiday party pounds. Maybe we spent too much on gifts under the tree. No matter the ailment, there’s a new year just around the corner. “This is the year I keep my resolutions!” we proclaim—always in good faith to start. “No, really . . . this is it! I’m going to get healthy! I’m going to save money!”
Catholics need to fight for Native American’s sacred sites.
Every summer, my family and I spend a couple of weeks driving across the country to visit destinations we have never been to before. Last July, our annual road trip included three of Utah’s five beautiful national parks—Arches, Canyonlands, and Zion.
The southern half of Utah is a remarkable work of art, and no two national parks are alike. Even though driving across Utah to visit the three national parks took up the bulk of our trip, I wanted to see everything at once.
Many have talked about the 2017 floods in light of climate change, but the resulting humanitarian crises suggest another reason to rethink urban development.
The images of human suffering before nature’s impassive course were riveting, if heartbreaking. After days of torrential rains, thousands were in flight from their homes seeking safety on higher ground. Where was this historic flooding taking place? In late August you had your choice of storm crises to pick from across the globe.
It’s time for the church to listen to indigenous people.
For Shantha Ready Alonso, the fight for environmental justice goes back to the 15th century, to the doctrine of discovery, a series of papal bulls that started with Pope Nicholas V. These documents, for which the Vatican has yet to apologize or repudiate, gave European nations the pope’s blessing to colonize non-Christian lands and kill native peoples.