It is because we value our relationship with God and God’s creation that concern for the environment and about climate change is for us Catholics a profoundly spiritual, ethical, and moral issue. Saint John Paul II said, “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the wellbeing of future generations.” But what can we as ordinary Catholics do? It turns out, plenty!
- Abstain from meat on Fridays—and as often as you can. The Catholic practice to abstain from meat one day a week is to remain mindful of what Christ did for us, but also has significant environmental benefits. The less meat we demand, the less slaughterhouse pollution we contribute and the fewer natural landscapes we convert into pasture.
- Buy less, use less. We live in a commercial culture that demands the newest, the brightest, the best in everything from clothing to electronics to automobiles. This consumerism comes at a price that is both spiritual and environmental. Consider buying things second-hand—or not buying them at all.
- Sign the Saint Francis pledge. It is simple and yet powerful: you commit to praying with and for creation, living more simply by lowering your family’s, parish’s, and/or religious community’s carbon footprint, and advocating to protect our common home.
What was once an individual decision is now a moral issue, since it is the poor and marginalized who will suffer the worst consequences of our changing environment. But the good news is that we can do something about it! We can show through our actions that we are a people apart, that as Catholics we live differently from the consumer culture around us. One step at a time.
“We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation, and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Benedict XVI calls ‘the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.'” (Pope Francis)