Bishop Bolen

Talking Green Spirit

  • May 1, 2014

When Canada’s Catholic bishops last year spoke out yet again on the environment they were hoping they wouldn’t have the last word on the subject. Now a Catholic video production company along with several parishes and religious orders are hoping to get Catholic students and parishioners talking with the launch of Green Spirit TV.

The inspiration for Green Spirit TV — which Villagers Media has launched on its web site and on a separate YouTube channel ( — is the April 13, 2013 statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ justice and peace commission, “Building a New Culture: Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment.”

The six-page document is a summary of recent papal teaching on the environment.

“The document didn’t enter into particular issues in relation to the environment, but we tried to work on principles — especially as articulated by recent popes,” said justice and peace commission chairman Bishop Don Bolen. “And then we said, really it’s up to the lay people in the Church to address particular issues.”

But first the document has to be read and discussed. That’s where Villagers has stepped in, garnered support from the Scarboro Mission Society, M adonna House in Combermere, Ont., the Passionist Fathers at St. Gabriel’s parish in Toronto and Kingston, Ont.’s Sisters of Providence to produce a series of videos and a study guide to be used in classrooms and with parish groups.

“It’s a good initiative, trying to get some publicity to a variety of environmental initiatives within Catholic churches and dioceses, kind of using the bishops’ document as a kind of hinge document, providing an interpretive framework,” Bolen said.

The whole series of videos and teaching materials should be online in August, in time for the school year, said Villagers producer Dawn Demme. Right now the online content consists of an introduction video and an overview.

The company has begun talks with the Institute for Catholic Education in the hope of getting the material out to religion teachers throughout Ontario, and the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops about promoting the program in the west.

If all goes well, Green Spirit TV should give life to the CCCB statement, said Bolen.

While the bishops aren’t directly involved in Green Spirit TV, they are cheering from the sidelines, Bolen said.

If Catholics do sit down together in parishes and classrooms to consider the religious and moral implications of climate change and environmental collapse it should result in real change, Bolen said.

“Pope Francis articulated it very clearly right at the beginning of his papacy. We don’t have a very healthy relationship with God’s creation,” said the Saskatoon bishop. “We’re not living as a human community in a way that is sustainable into the future. Therefore, we’re not being responsible stewards and not passing on the created world for those who come after us with the beauty and the integrity we received. So we need to make changes as a society in terms of our relationship with the environment. Our churches should be at the forefront of those changes, because we see creation as not just the natural world but God’s work. We have a responsibility in relationship to it — a steward’s responsibility.

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