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Debate: Can Catholics support the green movement?

Can a Catholic support environmentalism, or is the modern green movement entirely incompatible with Church teaching?

By on Thursday, 31 March 2011

Benedict XVI, described by some as the "green Pope", takes a walk in the Alps (CNS photo/ L'Osservatore Romano)

Benedict XVI, described by some as the "green Pope", takes a walk in the Alps (CNS photo/ L'Osservatore Romano)

In his blog this morning William Oddie asked whether a Catholic can support a green party. He wrote:

“So, is it possible to be a Green and also against abortion and gay marriage? Is it possible to be a Green and also a Catholic? Not in our politics, maybe: but Catholics are hardly against a clean and non-toxic environment.”

It is certainly true that Catholic theology is compatible with care for the environment: the Holy See is at present the only carbon-neutral state. Indeed, both the present Pope and his predecessor have emphasised the importance of caring for the environment, and Benedict XVI has earned the title of the “green Pope” for his policies in this area.

For the World Day of Peace on January 1 last year, he said that the environment “must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations”. The Holy Father added that “seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings”.

On the other hand, many green parties are heavily in favour of abortion, contraception, population control and other policies abhorrent to Catholics. Some also criticise the apocalyptic rhetoric of parts of the environmentalist movement, and accuse it of cult-like behaviour, as well as scientific dubiousness.

So, can a Catholic support environmentalism? Is it possible to be both a Catholic and a green campaigner?

  • Anonymous

    No. Not while so-called environmentalists refuse to consider that their neighbour is part of that equation.

  • Alexanders

    There is a worrying “anti-life” element in some environmental thinking but the idea of consuming less and living more simply is surely good. I like to think that, as they abandon materialism, many Greens will be more open to the working of the Holy Spirit

  • ms catholic state

    The question is……can we vote for any of the 3 main parties at all?! Not really. They are all secular……and anti-Christian. And the fault is ours.

  • Anonymous

    The question is how can you not support the green movement whilst being God’s stewards of the earth?

  • Spgxiii

    The true Green movement is entirely compatible with the Distributism of Chesteton, Belloc and and Fr McNabb. In his updating of Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’ Joseph Pearce, I think, attempted to show that the Green Party could be a party for Catholics if they were to understand that it was Schumacher’s own faith that inspired his economics. Unfortunately many of those involved in the Green cause are former/current Marxists leading to the nickname of Water Melons – green on the outside but red on the inside.

  • M Forrestal

    Unfortunately I believe that Green politics have been heavily influenced by Peter Singer. Their policies bear a striking similiarity to many of his… I think Catholics propose a clear alternative, but we must do it more clearly, by example as well as by word. Unfortunately, green concerns are not always taken seriously or are often rated second best by Christians. This is a serious mistake. Many people are trying to make a genuine difference and are turning away from Christianity because of misunderstood dominionship, callousness and dualism in some quarters. We need to delve more deeply into the words and example of saints Francis of Assisi and Basil the Great, amongst others, and reclaim the cosmic and universal vision of the Catholic faith.