The Vatican and Ecospirituality: Tensions, Promises and Possibilities for Fostering an Emerging Green Catholic Spirituality

  • Christopher Hrynkow Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatachewan
  • Dennis Patrick O'Hara University of Saint Micheal's College Faculty of Theology, University of Toronto
Keywords: Ecospirituality, Biocentrism, Catholic Social Teaching, Integral Ecological Ethics, Substantive Peace

Abstract

Since John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace Message on the ecological crisis, green themes have been a recurring feature of the Vatican’s public teachings. Working with a selection of Catholic Social Teaching documents, this article explores the Vatican’s reactions to and accommodations of ecospirituality.  A critical lens informed by ecotheological ethics is employed to analyse the Vatican’s specific brand of ecospirituality, particularly as it relates to its condemnation of biocentrism, while also acknowledging official efforts to green the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine and faith-based practices. With the advantage of the critical distance that a North American perspective provides, this article suggests ways that the Vatican can foster a more integral and substantively peaceful greening of Catholic Social Teaching and Catholic spirituality by drawing on resources from within Catholic intellectual tradition, as well as other expressions of ecospirituality, ecotheology, and Catholic Social Teaching documents from local bishops’ conferences in Europe and the Americas.

 

A partir del mensaje de  Juan Pablo II en el Día Mundial de la Paz de en 1990 sobre la crisis ecológica, han sido frecuentes los esfuerzos de divulgación  del Vaticano con respecto a temas relacionados al medio ambiente.  Basándose en una selección de documentos de la doctrina Social Católica a estos temas, este artículo explora las reacciones del Vaticano sobre argumentos  relacionados a la ecoespiritualidad. A través de un lente crítico basado en la ética ecoteológica asimismo que explorando una versión particular de ecoespiritualidad particularmente referida a la condenación del biocentrismo, se pondrá de manifiesto los esfuerzos oficiales de reverdecer la política de la Iglesia Apostólica Romana y  las prácticas de la fe que a este tema se refieren. Tomando como punto de partida la prerrogativa de una distancia crítica desde una enfoque Norteamericano, esta ponencia sugiere maneras en las que el Vaticano puede fomentar un reverdecimiento mas integral y pacífico de las doctrina Social Católica y de la Espiritualidad Católica recurriendo a fuentes dentro de la tradición intelectual Católica asimismo que basándose en otras expresiones de ecoespiritualidad, ecoteología y documentos de Educación Social Católica de conferencias de obispos en Europa y la Américas.


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Author Biography

Dennis Patrick O'Hara, University of Saint Micheal's College Faculty of Theology, University of Toronto
Dr. O'Hara is an associate professor of ethics in the graduate Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael's College and Director of its Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology.  He is also a core faculty member teaching in that university's Corporate Social Responsibility programme.  O'Hara is an associate faculty member for the Centre for Environment at the University of Toronto, co-teaching a graduate course in environment and health.  He has been actively involved in exploring and resolving integrative healthcare issues having worked with the Natural Health Products Directorate in Health Canada, and the World Health Organization.  Dr. O'Hara has spoken to professional and academic gatherings in Canada, the United States and Europe on ecotheology, health care ethics, and the spiritual dimension of human health. 
Published
2011-12-19
Section
Ecospirit: Religion and the Environment