About Me – Karen Doherty

 

tree-karen.JPG

I live in a small rural community on the eastern end of Long Island in New York.  A former staff member and volunteer leader in the Sierra Club, I have worked on wilderness, clean water and urban environmental issues and legislation in Alaska and New York.  I love the outdoors. I have always felt closest to God there.  Whether tending my backyard herb garden, or hiking in the forest, I am filled with awe and gratitude for this beautiful world and its Creator.

Over the years, I have often wished to blend my Catholic faith and environmental activism.  Three popes showed the way.

The sacredness of our environment, and our need to reverence and protect it, was brought to attention by St. John Paul II in his 1990 message, “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation.” He loved the outdoors, and photographs of him skiing, hiking and camping, in addition to his papal messages, brought the innate value of nature into Catholic consciousness. His teaching was expanded by Pope Benedict XVI, who became our first “green pope.” Benedict wrote about how inner and outer ecology mirror one another, and urged people to turn off their electronic devices and go into nature to find peace, rest and physical and spiritual renewal.

Pope Francis built on the work of his predecessors and expanded it with his June 18, 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si–On Care for Our Common Home.” Laudato Si places care of the Earth squarely in our Catholic identity and spiritual formation. “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s creation…is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” Through the concept of “Integral Ecology” Pope Francis brings together issues of social justice, economic inequality, climate change and environmental degradation, and asks us to address them globally and holistically, not as separate problems.  He also encourages us to experience an ecological conversion, where we seek to live in harmony with nature rather than dominate it.  This begins by changing our lifestyles to ensure that all benefit equally from the Earth’s resources, including future generations.