What does it mean to be a green Catholic

The Catholic Church has a rich history of being environment conscious. Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote Octogesima Adveniens, a 1971 apostolic letter that warned against the consequences of unchecked human actions.

“Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation,” he wrote.

In Saint Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, the Pope also wrote about man’s role as a steward of the earth.

“Man often seems to see no other meaning in his natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption,” John Paul II wrote “Yet it was the Creator’s will that man should communicate with nature as an intelligent and noble “master” and “guardian”, and not as a heedless “exploiter” and “destroyer”.

So what does it mean to be an environmentally-friendly Catholic? Let’s take a look at the recent writings of the past two popes to gain a clearer definition of a green Catholic.

While Pope Francis has written extensively on how we are called to be good stewards of the earth (don’t worry, we’ll check out his writings in a minute), the original green Pope is Pope Benedict XVI.

The lasting legacy of his papacy was how he shifted the global conversation on the earth’s climate and our responsibility for its care.

In his very first homily as the pope, Benedict alluded to his passions for human and environmental ecology.

Here’s what he said about the deserts in our world (and in our souls!) today:

“There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life.

“The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction.

“The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.” Continue reading


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