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The Green Popes


Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 02/05/15

Concern for the environment is not only part of concern for the poor, it is also linked with authentic spirituality. William Patenaude, who blogs at Catholic Ecology comments, the challenge of being good stewards of the earth’s resources “is contained within the very challenge of what we should be doing anyway: living a sober, temperate, virtuous, sacramental, incarnational, God- and neighbor-centered holy life. When one first seeks one’s own sanctification — when one struggles to live a virtuous life — one is less inclined to behaviors that diminish human dignity and damage ecosystems…excessive consumption by individuals is most often a symptom of a soul not at rest — of seeking fulfillment from worldly things.”

As part of the integrated social teaching of the Catholic church, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment will most certainly place this problem in the wider context, connecting the dots to show that concern for the environment has economic, demographic and sociological implications. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors who consistently taught on social concerns, Pope Francis’ teaching will spring first and foremost from concern for the salvation of humanity and the church’s compassion not just for creation, but for the whole human family.

Fr Dwight Longenecker is a parish priest in South Carolina. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at And read Fr Longenecker’s Lent book, Slubgrip Instructs. Go here to learn more.

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EnvironmentPope Benedict XVIPope Francis

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