Catholic Environmentalism

28 May 08 | Posted in Animals, Social Justice, U.S. Catholic

Mark Stoll, a history professor at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, argues that Catholics have not been prominent environmentalists in the past because their religious worldview encouraged a sense of sacredness among a community of people rather than with nature.

In a paper entitled The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Environmentalism, Stoll writes, “Religiously-minded Catholics dedicated themselves in service to the Church, or to the poor, or to the unconverted – to society, in other words…and by and large left nature writing to Protestants, alone in the woods with their God.” While Catholics have always appreciated the natural world, their passion for ecology has usually been an afterthought to their commitment to social concerns.

But, as Stoll points out, ecology is becoming a social concern. In his statement for the World Day of Peace in 1990, Pope John Paul II said, “the ecological crisis is a moral issue (that) has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone.” In response, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued Renewing the Earth, in which they insist that “the ecological problem is intimately connected to justice for the poor.”

“How,” they ask, “may we apply our social teaching, with its emphasis on the life and dignity of the human person, to the challenge of protecting the earth, our common home?”america-cover.jpg

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