All posts tagged: environment

Stewards Not Ravagers

If we consider the etymological roots of the word “ecology,” we can see in its Greek root the word oikos (meaning “household”). The word “ecology” itself thus already indicates to us a deep sense of radical relationality between human beings and the world, human beings, and one another. This means that care for the earth and care for persons (particularly the most fragile among us) are intimately bound, that environmental ecology and human ecology stand or fall together. We are one household, marked by an intricate web of relationships. When these relationships are conceived competitively rather than cooperatively, when nature or human beings are treated merely as instruments, both human dignity and the dignity of the created order are compromised. As Archbishop Wilton Gregory noted in a 2016 address, the divinely ordained task for human beings to be stewards of creation must begin with “the lofty dignity of the human person.” He noted that the created order was a good in itself because the act of creation bestowed “upon all of nature [is] an undeniable …

Human Dignity Can’t Be Separated from Ecological Awareness

In the Mojave Desert, palm trees flank Las Vegas’ Guardian Angel Cathedral, a smallish A-frame church that is almost all gray-brown segmented roof, reminiscent of a common backyard armor-plated roly-poly sow bug (actually an isopod terrestrial crustacean of the Armadillidiidae family) found in the dark moist environment underneath rocks. The cathedral is almost as inconspicuous, just a block east of The Strip of Las Vegas Boulevard and low lying compared to its 25 story casino-hotel neighbor across the street to the south. Some people chuckle in surprise to learn that Las Vegas is a diocese with a cathedral, somehow thinking Sin City’s constitutional vices of gambling, prostitution, strip clubs, and easy marriage and divorce are no place for the holiness of the Church. But where else should the Gospel be proclaimed? It is not for the righteous but for sinners. The light of Christ is to shine in the darkened interior of hearts and casinos in the sun-soaked desert. It is to open the eyes of these citizens to a true vision of God, the …

Agrarian Insights on Ecological Conversion: Living Laudato Si’

Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ posed a tremendous challenge for the Church and the entire world. Although the encyclical letter was seen widely as an intervention on climate change negotiations, it in fact offered much more – including a radical critique of our entire societal status quo. In particular, Francis challenges the “dominant technocratic paradigm,” outlining its various damaging cultural and spiritual effects while also offering suggestions toward cultivating an alternative lifestyle: “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal ” (Laudato Si’, §202).  The encyclical’s reception has been varied. Recent research indicates that the Pope’s teachings about global warming contributed to greater public engagement with the issue.[1] Still some, including American Catholics, continue to deny the full extent of our ecological problem. Others find themselves frustrated with institutional inaction or paralyzed by the immensity of the issue. The climate-change crisis, and our apparent inability to face it, is deeply distressing to the Church, since the roots of the problem …