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21 Jun 2016 Articles Comments (1)

Answering Pope Francis on Invalid Marriages

Pope Francis said outright yesterday what before could only be intuited from his comments: that most sacramental marriages today are not valid. According to …

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13 Jun 2016 Americas Asia-Pacific Europe News USA Vatican Comments (1)

Pope Francis Celebrates Mass for the Sick and disabled -

Love and solidarity are what make the world a better place, not a focus on physical perfection and hiding away those who do not fit a commercial ideal, Pope Fra…

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12 May 2016 USA No comments

‘Courageous’ women religious are crucial in fight against human trafficking, says Cardinal Nichols

The Archbishop of Westminster will encourage a greater global response to modern slavery at a UN conference Women religious working closely with police have ma…

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30 Dec 2015 Q&A No comments

Does the undeserved suffering of innocents point to the reality of reincarnation?

Full Question Doesn't cosmic justice require us to believe in reincarnation when we see innocent children suffering? If these children have not done anythi…

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02 Nov 2014 Articles No comments

Paganism, Prophecies, and Propaganda

Did you know that Catholic bishops are actually high priests of Dagon, the ancient fish deity of the Philistines? You see, the miter the bishop wears is a repli…

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09 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Cardinal Nichols thanks Queen for safeguarding the Christian faith

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to the Queen to congratulate her on being the longest reigning monarch Cardinal Nichols has written to the Queen thankin…

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17 Aug 2016 News No comments

Pope prays for exploited women on the Feast of the Assumption

The Pope prayed that exploited women soon would be able to live a life of 'peace, justice and love' Celebrating the feast of the Assumption just three days aft…

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10 Nov 2015 News Vatican No comments

Pope Francis outlines the importance of Rest for Workers

On Saturday, November 7, at St. Peter’s Square with employees of the Italian National Social Security Institute, Pope Francis acknowledged the organization’s co…

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29 Mar 2015 Q&A Comments (9)

Why don't the apostles recognize Jesus after the Resurrection?

  Full Question I'm baffled by the passages in Scripture that say the apostles didn't recognize Jesus when he rose from the dead (e.g.,…

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We can all take inspiration from the saints who paved the way for Laudato Si’

hen I was 20, during the summer at the end of my second year at university, I tested a vocation to the religious life by living in a convent in Spain for a while. The thing that amazed me was how free from earthly cares the sisters were. They never had to think about what they would wear, how they would pay their rent or what they would eat (their meals were prepared for them everyday). It meant that their minds and their time were free to devote themselves to worship and charity.

I couldn’t hack it. It felt very alienating to be so separate from the world of glamourous clothes, fancy meals and entertaining the possibility of getting married. I didn’t have the grace of their vocations. Now in the wake of Laudato Si’, it occurs to me that each sister was a model for the green movement. There was one car between them that was used sporadically, they never wasted food and they wore a very full habit that meant they didn’t have to burn so much fuel in winter.

Throughout the centuries, saintly priests and nuns have been exemplary environmentalists, long before the term was ever invented. St Thérèse of Lisieux is singled out for special praise in Laudato Si’. For one thing, she suffered terribly from the cold in winter, but offered it up. The Little Flower may be the right example for those who follow Pope Francis’s encyclical and want to stop using fossil fuels, and brave the wintry chill without a roaring fire.

In Laudato Si’, St Francis of Assisi and Blessed Charles de Foucald are also recognised for having been kind to Mother Nature. A saint who was also exceptional is St Isidore, the farmer, who would pray when he was meant to be working in the fields. When his master looked for Isidore, he found an angel pulling Isidore’s plough. St Isidore was following Pope Francis’ philosophy in the 12th century. He sought out poor people, sat with them and shared his food, which was a combination of reaching out to the penurious and certainly not wasting food. Being kind to the humblest of God’s creatures, one day it was snowing and Isidore found a flock of pigeons searching for food in the frozen terrain. He spilled half of a sack of grain on the ground for the birds, and when he returned to the mill, the bag was miraculously re-filled with wheat grain, which signifies that God rewarded St Isidore’s act of kindness.

The golden thread that unites such a variety of saints was that first and foremost, it was their love of holiness and above all else love of God which led them to lead environmentally friendly lives. But they didn’t have love of the earth first, and love of God second. There is an incredibly important distinction to be made. In regard to St Thérèse, she made a sacrifice of the long nights spent in the cold convent, offered it as penance and did it out of profound love of God.

My fear with Pope Francis’s encyclical is that people will process its message in a back-to-front way, and love God’s creation first, and God second. I do not subscribe to the dominant climate change theories. But there is a meeting point in the middle for Catholics who do believe in them and those of us who don’t, both camps can take inspiration from the lives of many saints who lived lives dedicated to God but in harmony with nature at the same time.


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