About the Catholic Church
Catholics are disciples of Jesus Christ, God enfleshed in the world, who proclaimed the Gospel, the Good News of the love of God through his life of compassion and nonviolence, his death and resurrection. The Catholic Church is a community of communities united as a global communion of local churches, each headed by a diocesan bishop in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. In Australia Catholics number over 5 million baptised, gathered in nearly 1,400 parish communities.
Church teaching can be accessed on the Vatican website. http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/it.html
The Catholic Church in Australia contributes to society through the numerous social and ecological initiatives in its parishes, schools, religious congregations, other institutions and organisations which can be viewed in the Catholic Directory. http://www.catholicdirectory.com.au/
Catholic Teaching on Ecology
Catholics believe that God is the source of life, the Creator of the Cosmos, Earth and all it contains, and that it is good. The loving kindness and compassion of God reaches out to the whole Earth community. Humanity has a conscious and responsible role within the Earth community. In Christ all creation grows to share in God’s own self and is forever in God (Rom 8:18; Col 1:15; Eph 1:10; Rev 5:13). This trajectory of transformation becomes a way to see, feel, act, pray, live and ultimately celebrate. Drawing on the insights of ecological sciences in particular, since the 1960s church eco-faith teaching has grown. The 1990 New Year Message of Pope John Paul II was historic in teaching that environmental care is integral to Catholic faith. In 2001, he named St Frances of Assisi the patron saint of ecology. The 2015 environmental encyclical letter of Pope Francis Laudato Si’ http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html was addressed to all people, not just Catholics, out of a sense of urgency in the face of the ecological crises. It has ushered in a new era in Catholic teaching that stresses the interconnectedness of our relationship with God, with each other and with the earth itself.# 66. We need dialogue between the worlds of science, economics, lifestyle and the human vocation. The direct links forged between the Pope Francis and the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch expressed in his encyclical offers a model for dialogue and cooperation between different faiths.
Catholic Ecological Action
In Australia, the Catholic Bishops Conference set up Catholic Earthcare Australia http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ as its environmental agency with many resources for education and action in parishes, schools and the community.
The bishops have published documents on local issues such as the Great Barrier Reef http://catholicearthcare.org.au/project/bishops-statement-great-barrier-reef/ and the Murray-Darling Basin http://catholicearthcare.org.au/project/gift-of-water/.
Religious Congregations have dedicated teams on ecological ministry eg:
The Mercy Sisters and Rahamim Ecology Centre http://www.rahamim.org.au/
The Presentation Sisters and Erin Earth http://www.erinearth.org.au/
The Josephite Sisters Spirituality and Education Centre at Kincumber http://www.stjosephskincumber.org.au/local-environment/index.cfm?loadref=22
The Christian Brothers Ecology and Spirituality Centre at Glenburn http://www.edmundrice.org/glenburn.html
The Columban Mission Society’s ecological resources https://www.columban.org.au/media-and-publications/educational-resources/stations-of-the-forests-(australian-version)%20
Catholic Schools and Parishes across Australia are implementing On Holy Ground http://catholicearthcare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/On-Holy-Ground-Queensland.pdf and Laudato Si’ and connecting with each other for education, networking, sharing resources and support. Eg Gumburu Environmental Education Centre. https://www.gumburu.tsv.catholic.edu.au/ They are interacting with environmental groups eg the St Anthony’s Terrey Hills Kierans Creek rehabilitation and forest revegetation Landcare project. https://fieldcapture.ala.org.au/merit/project/index/8a06aed4-1d82-4067-a971-72b276558166