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

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.

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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?

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