Peace to God’s People and Earth

Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace Message for January 1, 2010, was “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.” Initially published on December 15 to coincide with the international climate gathering in Copenhagen, this brief reflection builds on a few paragraphs concerning the environment that were included in his social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, which was issued last summer.

If you have read Ragan Sutterfield’s EP pamphlet, “God’s Grandeur: The Church in the Economy of Creation,” you may be interested in reading the pope’s statement. While there is not a whole lot that is new in this World Day of Peace Message, its linking of peacemaking and care for the environment is indeed noteworthy, with both stressed as positive moral obligations impingent upon Christians.

In advance of this papal statement, I presented a short reflection on a more theological approach to sustainability, anchored in biblical shalom, at a conference on “Sustainability and the Catholic University” in October 2009 at the University of Notre Dame. There are also other papers at this website, such as one on “Liturgical Cosmology” by Notre Dame’s David Fagerberg, that may be of interest to EPers.

I suspect we can expect to see much more on the topic of theology and the environment in the year ahead.

Behold, How Good and Pleasant

If you mourn the splintering of Christianity, if you pray that all may be one as Christ and the Father are one, and especially if you, in whatever Christian tradition you worship, yearn for a strong ecumenism in which Christians speak from the heart as the Holy Spirit guides them, refusing to merely paper over substantive differences, then there’s something you must hear. Read more

Benedict and Jeremiah

Two very public, very controversial religious leaders have addressed the nation in as many weeks and the differences between them couldn’t be more striking. Pope Benedict, during his stateside visit earlier this month, spoke the truth about American Catholicism with equal parts commendation and critique. His humility and shy grace were evident in his speeches and sermons and in his carriage and demeanor (all of which was a little disconcerting to those who remember when his public persona—fair or not—was that of the rigid, humorless Cardinal Ratzinger).

Jeremiah Wright, on the other hand, has come out swinging. In a series of increasingly hostile speeches he has assumed the pose of the put-upon, the tragically misunderstood. At first he had a point: reducing thirty years of sermons to thirty seconds of incendiary sound bites was irresponsible and misleading and did serious damage to Wright himself, to Barack Obama’s presidential aspirations, and to the (multivalent) tradition of black preaching in America. Read more