I’ll never forget the time in eighth-grade religion class when one of my classmates asked why our school didn’t participate in neighborhood cleanup days. My teacher replied, “It’s not fair to worry about things like that when souls are going to Hell every day.”
She elaborated, “The earth can save itself.”
Yeah. That happened.
This teacher would also frequently stress the importance of following everything the Catholic Church teaches without question. (You can’t just pick and choose!)
Which, of course, begs the question of how she and others from this line of thinking are responding to Pope Francis’s new encyclical on ecology and climate change.
Entitled “Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home,” the official statement of church teaching calls on all of humanity to do their part to stop environmental deterioration; to “recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat this warming” and protect our shared home.
However, protecting the environment and being stewards of the earth are not new concepts for the Church. In 1981, the U.S. Catholic Conference even issued a statement that recognized the threat of climate change and the need for clean energy.
So while the encyclical may be increasing global consciousness and moving the sympathetic to act, it’s probably not troubling the deniers as much as you’d think.