Most people don’t put “Catholic philosophy” and “ecology” in the same thought, but Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s writing prove that the Church has much to say about ecology. In the newly published The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology, the former pope’s teachings about human life, the environment and physical and social sciences are engagingly presented. According to William L. Patenaude at The Catholic World Report:
The timing of this book is particularly good. Of late, environmental scientists are escalating their individual warnings. And the month of April finds a great many Earth Day celebrations taking place across the globe. With the help of The Garden of God, Catholics can better engage the ecological movement by discerning what we share with other environmental advocates and what we don’t.
Patenaude mentions another book that clearly addresses the issue of Catholicism and the environment, one that dovetails nicely with Benedict’s:
Benedict XVI’s words can certainly be rich and they are always rooted in a particular context that may not be obvious to the casual reader.
This is where the pastoral letter on ecology by Bishop Dominique Rey is particularly helpful. First titled Peut-on être Catho et Écolo? Lettre sur l’ écologie (“Can One Be Catholic and Green? A Letter on Ecology”), the text was re-published in 2013 by the Acton Institute as Catholicism, Ecology, and the Environment: A Bishop’s Reflection.
Like Benedict XVI, Bishop Rey offers in this separate publication something to delight and challenge everyone. “One of the first causes of the current human ecological disorder is the widespread anti-life mentality that has spawned one of the greatest genocides in all of history. … An authentically Christian concept of ecology demands the defense of human life.”
Patenaude refers to Benedict as the “Green Pope” for his rich legacy of teaching on science and the environment, calling Christians to tend to God’s creation as His stewards.
Is modern environmentalism compatible with Christianity? Bishop Dominique Rey provides answers to this critical question in this theological reflection on the relationships among God, man, and nature. More than a critique of secular environmentalism’s idolatry of nature, Rey’s primary purpose is to show Catholics and other Christians how they can view the environment in a way consistent with sacred Scripture, tradition, and magisterial teaching. Drawing on Scripture, the insights of Church Fathers, and recent magisterial teaching on ecological issues, Rey stresses that if we lose a correct understanding of man’s relationship to God and how that relationship shapes man’s self-understanding, then our capacity to think coherently about ecological subjects corrodes.