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OTTAWA - People on both sides of the political spectrum share sentiments on protecting the environment, says a former U.S. Republican congressman, but while the left might offer “pie in the sky” solutions that don’t work, conservatives can offer solutions that “understand human nature” and “free market solutions that work.”

Published in Canada

WASHINGTON - The much-anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis on the environment, expected sometime this spring or early summer, is generating a lot of buzz in Washington and elsewhere.

Published in International

TORONTO - Having their views heard on a world stage has made students from a Toronto Catholic high school realize their voice on climate change does matter.

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO - At Bishop Allen Academy’s annual charity dinner for the community Dec. 8, Vanessa Rasile was served a cocktail of emotions.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Some ideas for an eco-friendly Christmas:

LED lights
1. Use 90- to 95-per-cent less energy.
2. Last at least seven times longer than ordinary lights.
3. Are more durable and don’t have any breakable filaments or glass bulbs.
4. Produce less heat, thereby reducing the risk of fire.

Christmas trees
1. Why not buy a potted tree this year? You can transplant it outside in the spring or let it grow on your balcony and bring it back inside for use next Christmas.
2. If you buy a real tree, find out if your municipality picks them up after Christmas for mulching.

Decorations
1. Deck your halls with handmade decorations like popcorn and fresh cranberry chains. A biodegradable choice!
2. Buy decorations you can reuse year after year. Instead of throwing out old ornaments, consider repainting them.

Gifts
1. Everyone has items that they don’t use or are as good as new. Give gifts of repaired or refurbished items.
2. Buy environmentally friendly gifts that the receivers will appreciate. Buy products certified EcoLogo or Energy Star, the symbol of high energy efficiency.

Gift wrap
1. Use cloth gift bags instead of paper. You can craft wonderful personalized bags that may be appreciated as much as the gift inside, and can be reused.
2. Or you can use old posters, photos or comics from the newspaper, or magazine pages to wrap presents.
3. To add the finishing touch to your gifts, use pine cones, evergreen branches or other colourful objects from nature instead of store-bought ribbons and bows.
4. Be gentle this year when opening your presents and save the paper and ribbon for next year!
5. Even simpler, put your presents in reusable gift bags!

Heating
1. Cooking and entertaining can really warm up your home. Before the kitchen gets too hot, turn down your thermostat. Don’t open the window.
2. In winter, use fans to circulate warm air through the house.
3. If lots of people are coming and going, make sure you close doors properly and keep the warm air inside for you and your guests.
4. If you heat with a wood stove, make sure your chimney is clean and that your wood stove is EPA-certified. Minimize use of your fireplace.

(Source: greenchurch.ca.)

Published in Arts

The world’s environmental crisis reflects a global spiritual crisis, and saving the planet requires a return to a world view centred around God, argues the director of the ecumenical Green Church program in Canada 

Published in Book News

TORONTO - The difference between right and wrong could be the difference between life and extinction as Earth’s climate continues to spiral out of control, a Yale University professor of forestry and religious studies told a Toronto audience Nov. 9.

Mary Evelyn Tucker is the director of Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology and was a frequent collaborator with the late Passionist father of ecotheology Fr. Thomas Berry. Speaking on “Future Generations and the Ethics of Climate Change” at the invitation of the University of St. Michael’s College’s Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology, Tucker made the case for an alliance between the worlds of religion and science.

While science is more comfortable with descriptive than prescriptive words about nature and cautious scientists have been reluctant to tell politicians what to do, religion has only very recently begun to address the environmental crisis and ecotheology is still rarely spoken of in seminaries. However, the state of the world’s natural systems demands the best thinking of both religion and science, said Tucker.

“We have to say continually that religion is necessary but not sufficient. We have to develop partners in science, in law, in policy,” she said.

“We need humility. We don’t have all the answers because we were late in coming to this.”

Even if there has been a widening gap between science and religion in the modern era, the world now needs the “deep spiritual resources” of world religions that have dedicated millennia to thinking about right, wrong and the common good. Religion has the ability to teach humanity to value nature as the source of life, rather than a collection of resources to be fed into the gross domestic product of nations, she said.

“We have to see environmental degradation as an ethical issue,” she said. “Until now degradation has been seen as the inevitable cost of economic growth.”

The beginnings of an ethics that addresses climate change would be a serious look at distributive justice, according to Tucker. There are already winners and losers around the globe as sea levels rise, droughts devastate farm land and more violent storms create climate refugees from New Jersey to Bangladesh. But distributive justice should also mean extending the reach of human rights to future generations who will have to live in the environment this generation leaves them.

While an ethic of rights might set minimum standards, drawing lines which must not be crossed, a true environmental ethic would concern itself with much more than the minimum. As nature always seeks flourishing, so should our ethics.

Our ethics should be based on a clear-eyed view of human beings as a “small but indispensable part of a 14-billion-year evolution,” she said. “We need an ethic that is culturally aware but also universally compelling.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - With the opening last month of a new green burial option in the Greater Toronto Area, eco-conscious families now have more choices for burying their loved ones.

It’s just that it’s not an option — yet — at a Catholic cemetery.

When Meadowvale Cemetery opened its green burial section in Brampton, Ont., in June, it was the first of its kind in the GTA. But it won’t be too long before Catholic Cemeteries — Archdiocese of Toronto follows suit.

Published in Features

LIMA, Peru - Twenty years ago, a 12-year-old girl stood before government officials from most of the world's countries and pleaded for her future. Worried about pollution and overuse of natural resources on her finite planet, she begged, "If you don't know how to fix it, please don't break it."

The occasion was the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which ended with the world's countries committing -- at least on paper -- to make environmental concerns a priority and eliminate unsustainable forms of production and consumption. Above all, delegates agreed that development must not jeopardize the welfare of future generations."

Published in International

This week's batch of movies couldn't be more different if they tried. A Disney nature documentary, a space-based action, a horror movie and romantic comedies mean you're sure to have something to entertain you at the weekend.

Published in Movie News

TORONTO - It may have been lights out for an hour at 95 Toronto Catholic schools during Earth Hour on March 30, but St. Ambrose Catholic School went three steps further by encouraging students to participate in the morning announcements, bring a littlerless lunch and dress in black.

“This year we are focusing on the theme of 60-plus, going beyond just Earth Hour,” said Kathleen Sztuka, Grade 4-5 teacher and school science representative. “We see the awareness of the kids growing.” 

Sztuka, a 20-year educator, organized this year’s event and wanted to do more than simply flick a switch, which she did note is the equivalent of removing 43,000 cars from the road for an hour when done collectively. Making students stand out was the thinking behind ditching the school uniform for funeral wear.

Published in Education
March 14, 2012

Making green choices

TORONTO - Parishes looking for a green path to God, or even just lower heating bills, can explore the possibilities at the fourth annual Green Choices for Faith Communities Forum March 25.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event, organized by the Green Awakening Network and Greening Sacred Spaces. The noon to 5:15 p.m. conference costs $35 per participant with the deadline for pre-registration falling March 21.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Canadian religious leaders and interfaith coalitions banded together before the Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 United Nations climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, to urge Ottawa to take substantial steps toward a new international agreement to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocols. Almost alone among Canada’s major church and faith bodies, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops refused to sign the “Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change.”

The Congregation of St. Joseph signed, along with many other Catholic religious orders and a broad swath of Canada’s Christian bodies. Major Muslim, Hindu and interfaith coalitions also signed onto the two-page statement.

Published in Canada

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Climate change-induced drought that has afflicted the Horn of Africa presents the opportunity for the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work more closely with the government to address food shortages and development concerns, said an official of the country's bishops' conference.

Recalling when Ethiopian regimes in the 1970s and 1980s either did not have the capacity or the political will to face a series of famines, Father Hailegebriel Meleku, deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, said the country is now better poised to address its humanitarian problems, in part because church bodies have been mobilized during recent crises.

Published in International

Vibrant public discourse is highly desirable, but it demands thoughtful application.

During climate negotiations at December’s UN conference in Durban, the discourse was sour. On Day 1, disgruntled environmental activists presented Canada with a “Colossal Fossil” award after Environment Minister Peter Kent declared “Kyoto is the past.” Following media reports that the Canadian government planned to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, Kent clarified on Dec. 5 that Canada was not actually withdrawing but would simply not agree to a second commitment period.

That was followed by a torrent of exaggerated invective launched in Canadian media in response to a full-page ad published in the Globe and Mail. The ad, signed by South African dignitaries, including the Nobel Peace laureate,  Anglican Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, praised Canada for its role to end apartheid in South Africa but also questioned Canada’s current commitment to prevention of climate change, which was called “a life- and-death issue” for Africans. The ad went on to criticize the sacred cow of Canadian energy policy: the Athabasca oil sands.

Published in Guest Columns

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