Nearly a week after an oil pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Ark., residents of this community of 2,200 are still overwhelmed by the disaster that has upended their lives.
While most of us are biding our time, waiting to see how Pope Francis tackles the toughest issues in the church -- the role of women; issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; reform of the Curia; dealing with the sex abuse cover-up -- there seems little doubt that Francis will be an environmental pope.
In the days of the Canadian frontier, indigenous peoples and fur traders used liquid bitumen to seal their canoes.
With the advance of technology, however, the substance has become a lucrative boon for the oil industry. For the rest of us, it has all the makings of an ecological horror story. Bitumen is a viscous, low-grade petroleum. It is the chief ingredient in the dirty oil mix now being exported from the Alberta tar sands to the United States.
When hundreds of thousands of young Catholics gather with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in the summer, reflections on safeguarding the environment will be part of the program.
Like earlier editions of World Youth Day, the July celebration in Rio de Janeiro will include morning catechetical sessions and afternoon cultural events.
With a name like Francis, it’s not hard for a pope to draw the attention of environmentalists.
It's even easier when the Francis in reference is Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology.
For some, the namesake indicated Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would place respect and protection for creation as a central tenant of his papacy, following the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
I recently stayed overnight with some friends outside of Wilmington, Del., in a "deeded community." I asked them if they grew vegetables in the summer and they said, "No, it was part of the deed that no vegetables could be grown."
The development was built in the 1950s and numbers around 300 homes. They are all the same in structure, different in decoration and are required, by deed, to grow flowers in the front in the summer. "Some color" is required, while all vegetables are banned.
Indigenous people have always celebrated the four elements of earth, air, water and fire because of the life-giving gifts they bring to us. They ensure our very survival on this planet.
The Zoroastrian religion, a pre-Islamic, monotheistic faith founded by the prophet Zarathustra, in sixth-century B.C. Persia (now Iran) paid homage to the four elements by assigning an angel to each of them. The angel of water is named Anahita.
A Catholic university and Tibetan college are joining forces to bring the Dalai Lama to Portland, Ore., to key a May 9-11 environmental summit in the area.
"The summit includes three days of teachings and conversation with the Dalai Lama and leaders from Pacific Northwest environmental, scientific, policy and faith communities," according to a story from the Catholic Sentinel, the newspaper of the Portland archdiocese.
While it is all but assured the next pope entered the conclave Tuesday wearing a red hat, will he exit with a green mentality?
Pope Benedict XVI was lauded in both religious and environmental circles for his calls for environmental stewardship and care for creation. His sudden exit has left observers wondering whether his successor will follow his lead.
In my 1990 book, The Greening of the Church, I argued that concern for God's creation was low on the list of Catholic priorities. In the intervening years, concerns for the planet have increased at the level of papal teaching and in local churches.