Photo: The Kaiser aluminum plant smokestack behind the Catholic Church, belches fumes over the residential area in the Chalmette section  (3/1973) Messina, John, Photographer, Environmental Protection Agency. <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:THE_KAISER_ALUMINUM_PLANT_SMOKESTACK,_BEHIND_THE_CATHOLIC_CHURCH,_BELCHES_FUMES_OVER_THE_RESIDENTIAL_AREA_IN_THE..._-_NARA_-_546048.jpg">Via Wikimedia Commons</a>.

A roundup of the news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere.  Click on the headline link to see the full article.


On climate change, Hispanic Catholics hear pope’s message – and it’s personal

Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian 
Long before Pope Francis called for the faithful to work toward environmental justice, water and drought were natural concerns for many in the western US and willing disciples may galvanize like never before

On a June morning, Father Rob Yaksich, a park ranger until he found his calling in mid-life as a Catholic priest, presided over his first ever Sunday Mass at the historic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That day, he chose the power of spreading the faith as the theme of his sermon.

“Think of the mustard seed,” he told those gathered for the early morning Spanish language mass. “We all carry little mustard seeds of faith in our hearts. This mustard seed grows, and if it is nourished, it grows into a great tree.”

The roots of the Catholic church run deep here; New Mexico is considered one of the most culturally Catholic states. The first permanent Franciscan mission is in present-day Santa Fe, which is surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

The power of those Catholic faithful will now be put to the test twice over, with the pope’s radical message about climate change in the global economy, and his call for a phase-out of fossil fuels in the name of protecting the poor.

It’s now up to Yaksich and others to spread Francis’s message of urgency and make the seed of action planted by the pope grow, even in New Mexico, a poor rural state with a Republican governor caught in a pincer hold by the oil and gas industry on its northwestern and southeastern flanks. The industry accounts for about a third of the New Mexico’s general fund.
(27 June 2015)


Go and Pollute No More

Eric Holthaus, Slate 
How the pope’s climate-change message is playing in pews.

… the road ahead for the church’s progressive wing won’t be easy. The pope repudiates the slow, iterative approach that’s allowed climate change to escalate decades after the basic consequences were first widely known. In his message, the pope called for a complete “rethink” of humanity’s relationship to the environment, warning that “halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster.”

… “It’s a game-changing moment for the church,” said Matt Malone, a Jesuit priest and editor in chief of America, a weekly Jesuit magazine. By framing the environment as a core Catholic advocacy issue, “the highest teaching authority in the church is saying this is now a priority.”

… As a former Catholic and a writer on climate change, the pope’s letter felt a bit like that one Seinfeld episode for me. The encyclical was addressed to “every person living on the planet,” but I felt like he was speaking to me personally.

I grew up in a conservative Kansas town and went to a Jesuit university with a rich history of activism, almost by accident—Saint Louis University was the closest Catholic institution with a program in meteorology.

… Now, the most famous Jesuit in the world is trying to do for the entire planet what college did for me: inspire people to think about how everyday individual actions, multiplied millions of times, could add up to a “bold cultural revolution,” in Francis’ words.

To try to see what it might take for this “game-changing” Catholic environmental movement to emerge, I spoke with a few of my former priests.
(25 June 2015)


The pope’s climate change message is really about rethinking what it means to be human

Stephen P. White, Vox 
Given the media coverage since its release, and the political implications of the pope throwing his moral weight behind one side in a high-stakes debate about climate policy, one could be forgiven for thinking that Pope Francis’s new encyclical is mostly about climate change and what we need to do to combat it.

Except it is and it isn’t. In fact, mostly it isn’t.

What makes this encyclical controversial is its reading of contested questions of science, economics, and politics. What makes it radical — in the sense of going to the root — is the pope’s reading of the profound human crisis that he sees underlying our modern world. Abuse of our environment isn’t the only problem facing humanity. In fact, Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis as a symptom of a deeper crisis — a human crisis. These two problems are related and interdependent. And the solution is not simply to eliminate fossil fuels or rethink carbon credits. The pope is calling on the world to rediscover what it means to be human — and as a result, to reject the cult of economic growth and material accumulation.
(24 June 2015)


Encyclical on climate change may be slow to take hold

David Giambusso and Conor Skelding, Capital New York 
… religious experts say it could be awhile before Catholics in the greater metropolitan area start hearing the sentiments expressed in Laudato Si’ .

Despite the importance of encyclicals in the hierarchy of Catholic doctrine, its dissemination in local parishes and Catholic schools will be largely dependent upon the willingness of bishops, priests and nuns.

"A lot of people think the Catholic Church is structured like the U.S. Army," said Jesuit priest and social scientist Thomas Reese, a senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. "It’s actually an absolute monarchy tempered by selective disobedience."

… While bishops are not likely to openly oppose the pope’s position on climate change, Reese said many could opt to give it short shrift to it, depending upon their personal beliefs and those of their congregations.

"Clearly it will be difficult for bishops in Oklahoma and Kentucky," Reese said. "In oil country, this is going to be a very difficult message."
(26 June 2015)

Photo: The Kaiser aluminum plant smokestack behind the Catholic Church, belches fumes over the residential area in the Chalmette section (3/1973) Messina, John, Photographer, Environmental Protection Agency. Via Wikimedia Commons.