Eco Catholic: The pastoral letter, titled The Telling Takes Us Home, seeks to give this often-overlooked region a public voice with a universal echo.
From all the rich content of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” regarding theological and scriptural understandings of “Our Common Home,” one section has caught the attention of those living in the coalfields of Central Appalachia. In section 165, the pope turns to what needs to be done in light of climate change: “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels -- especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas -- needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
Making a Difference: Largely out of sight in the Appalachian Mountains are people living in shacks with no indoor plumbing.
Forty years since the bishops of Appalachia first called attention to the lives and struggles of people in the region, a new effort is underway to raise the voices of Appalachians celebrating their accomplishments and confronting their struggles.
Work is continuing on a new pastoral letter called the People's Pastoral. It is percolating from the Appalachians themselves and will reflect on their stories, struggles and hopes, said Jeannie Kirkhope, coordinator of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, which is organizing the project.
A strikingly beautiful leg of West Virginia Route 3 passes through one of the richest coal mining areas of the country.
West Virginia's history has long been marked by extractive industries.
Sitting on the shaded front porch of his two-room cabin on a lazy August afternoon, Delphin Brock pointed toward the next mountain ridge where a few weeks earlier heavy equipment was remaking the landscape. Then, he said, noise from the mining activity echoed over the mountains.
The terms "poverty" and "America" did not seem to fit together for Philippine native Mar-Rex Lindawan, a nursing student at Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.
A March visit to Appalachia changed her perspective.
Pastoral letters tend to function as top-down, formal documents from Catholic bishops filled with instructions and moral directives.
But for its next statement, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, a 44-year old organization devoted to social and environmental justice, is flipping that model upside down.
“God’s original plan was to hang out in a garden with some naked vegetarians,” declares a bumper sticker created by the nonprofit Restoring Eden -- Christians for Environmental Stewardship. Their recent target audience, however, isn’t ironic hipsters, but rather everyday folks in Appalachia.