Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Today at work, my state agency opened its doors to local environmental groups, researchers, and others whose mission is ecological protection. Also attending was the Gospel, although it may have been easy to miss if you weren't paying attention.
The event's purpose was to encourage partnerships between the government and the advocates that want to help. In these days of reduced government budgets, the need to partner with others is necessary, even if it is something we should have been doing all along.
As a person of faith – which I shared in the introductions, that I was not just an engineer with my agency, but that I also worked with “faith-based groups” in the area of ecology – I listened intently as everyone shared in the conversation.
There was the schooled eco-advocate and nurse – a delightful, dignified, smiling woman who labors to build a healthy world, and so reduce the suffering she sees all too often at her job. There was the eco-lobbyist who asked for my card because she wanted to work with people of faith. There was a young man dedicated to issues of environmental justice who offered to help with an upcoming talk on the ethics of climate change.
And there was the Gospel of life, present in a small but real ways among people fighting specific battles in the greater war for life. Sure, we may not all be in agreement on every issue that I as a Catholic profess, teach, and defend. But that’s the point. We’re nonetheless building alliances and friendships and, in doing so, living in the same community, making eye contact, and shaking hands.
Such interaction is the stuff of being Catholic because it invites strangers into friendships that encourage a greater communion.
One last observation: I was struck with what one local ecological veteran shared as he spoke about many relevant and weighty issues. He noted that for a “green economy” to be fostered there is need for a “civil renewal.” This thread of conversation didn’t receive the attention it deserved – the time was meant to begin, not complete, conversations. And anyway, I don’t think many knew what he meant by the term, nor do I for sure. But “civil renewal” did sound something like what the Holy Father has been speaking of in the use of the term “inner attitudes,” and how we must change ours if we are to confront the starvation that is killing millions.
I am always sad when Catholics or those of other faiths criticize ecology. As today’s gathering has shown me once again, ecology is a graced way of blending science, faith, and life – and in so doing, helping to bring about an authentic “civil renewal” needed for the good of all mankind.
May Saint Francis and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha pray for all ecologists, and may we all work to offer a clean, healthy, and sustainable global community for many, many generations not yet born.