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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The 2016 Top Ten Catholic Eco-Stories With insights into what's ahead in 2017/Part 2

Our sincere thanks to Bill Patenaude, who writes Catholic Ecology, for sharing with us his top ten stories for 2016.  We hope to have Bill on soon to discuss this with us.

More important for us, what, then are our top ten ecological stories?  Why?  Is one of them the election of Don Trump and the changes he will soon usher in?  Much thought should be given to this right now, as you are with your goals for 2017.  Looking back as a foundation for looking forward will give us solid footing and an edge.  We'd like to see more people set simple goals around efficiency, updating to better fuel use in transportation, buying more local food, etc, as the base for a better year.

We will finish this up tomorrow and give you a link to the blog.

Regardless, God bless you all as you enter a brand new year, full of unbelievable promise for us and the planet.

5: Cardinal Robert Sarah
Speaking of the spiritual, this story may not seem a Catholic eco-story at all. But it is, and deeply so. Given the cosmic realities of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is vital that we get the liturgy right if we really want a culture devoted to protecting people and creation. Alas, with the Mass as Entertainment being an all-too frequent reality in too many parishes, the purpose of what God is doing can be clouded and forgotten. And this forgetting encourages more and more Catholics to find little relevance in going to Mass. Satan, then, rejoices, and the planet continues to be consumed and defiled by the vices of humanity. Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has bombastically and beautifully fought to bring the sacred, the profound, and even the silent back to the Mass. His call for saying Mass ad orientum, for instance, has been seen by some as dreadfully archaic and cold. Quite the contrary. What Cardinal Sarah is calling for is less focus on you, me, and the celebrant, and more worship of Christ, who alone takes away the sins of the world.
4. Krakow’s World Youth Day
Talk to Tomás Insua, the executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, about the eco-efforts at 2016’s World Youth Day and he'll happily tell you about that “loaves and fishes” moment when a special video eco-message from Pope Francis was played somewhat randomly in front of three million participants waiting for the pontiff’s arrival for evening prayer. Turns out, this was the only moment when Laudato Si' was mentioned at the event. The video, and all the eco-efforts at WYD, were assembled from a small, dedicated, and prayerful team, including Lou Arsenio of the Archdiocese of Manila and Allen Ottaro of the Catholic Youth for Environmental Sustainability in Africa. Insua says that their work “ended up with the jaw-dropping outcome,” as well as ecclesial promises for much more eco-engagement at the next big World Youth Day in Panama in 2019.
3: The Global Catholic Climate Movement
Notice a trend? One Catholic eco-group involved in one way or another in much of the top ten stories thus far is The Global Catholic Climate Movement. Founded with no funding by a group of Catholic eco-advocates from around the world in early 2015 (I was blessed to have been one of them), the GCCM has skyrocketed in visibility and effectiveness as it weaves prayer and action, faith and reason to elevate the Church’s public role in global climate discussions and on issues of sustainability of all sorts. Read through the group’s own Top Ten stories from 2016 and you’ll see why the GCCM will continue to be a vital movement in 2017 and beyond.
2: The Great Divide
The eco-news in 2016 has not all been good. The year is ending with worry and consternation over what some are saying are too few changes in business and consumption as usual, and an unhealthy nationalism among many countries—most notably here in the United States with the election of Donald Trump. Of course, the elections of eco-unfriendly leaders and governments are often a symptom of a great divide between (to use the popular vernacular) the political and ideological left (which have long embraced eco-issues, often while also embracing abortion and same-sex marriage) and the right (which very often does not embrace environmental stewardship at all). 2016 saw Princes of the Church openly question Pope Francis on the moral teachings within Amoris Laetitia; heated debates about Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities; and Catholic eco-advocates and traditional pro-life street warriors sparring in print and in person. And here again, Satan rejoices as this divide, and the ensuing mistrust, grows. Caught in the middle are things like objective science and the common good—not to mention the integral approach to ecology championed by Pope Francis, Benedict XVI, Saint John Paul II, and many of the world’s bishops. Benedict XVI saw this division plainly in 2009 and rebuked it. “Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person,” he wrote. “It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other.” But the trampling has gotten heavier these past years and months as some in the pro-life community erupt in fury should someone dare to say that ecology is a pro-life issue. Of course this division is principally a reality in the United States and other Western cultures—places that have seen abortion kill millions, which explains why people devote their lives exclusively and often heroically to turning that reality around. But elsewhere, eco-issues and traditional pro-life issues are joining hands—which is what our pontiffs have been urging us to do.
Which brings us to our top story of 2016 ...
1: Bridging the Divide in Ecuador
Examples of Catholics working together to defend human dignity and creation come from Ecuador, where the Church is often on the front lines of environmental and social justice issues.
A dedicated group of Catholic eco-advocates affiliated with the Global Catholic Climate Movement marched last month in El Amor en Movimiento ( Love in Motion), organized by the Ecuadorian Red Vida y Familia (Life and Family Network). The march took place in Quito, Tena, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Loja, Cuenca, and Esmeraldas.

The group also participated in the organizational meetings “where we were welcomed by all the other organizations that promote this march,” said GCCM Latin American coordinator Fabián Campos. During the march they carried their own, sizeable flag with a baby and a phrase of Laudato Si’, and they shared information about the GCCM along the way. (See them march below.)

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