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Posted September 30, 2004

Book: Environmental Theology?
Author: John Hart
Paulist Press, New York, pp. 165

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of Catholic teachings on environmental themes by exploring official statements from Rome and the bishops of the Americas, as well as from contemporary visionary theologians.

An Excerpt from the Book:

As the ranks of theologians became augmented by increasing numbers of the laity, and as they and members of religious orders and the clergy — priests and bishops — became more engaged with the concrete problems facing Earth and all creatures, a gradual transformation in church understandings began to develop. While not all of the new perspectives were accepted, and while some of those that were accepted were not incorporated into church teachings in their entirety, new insights and new practices began to become part of the ecological consciousness of Catholicism.

The most significant developments in Catholic environmental thought, as expressed in the most recent church documents were seven:

1. The use of the term sacramental universe, with a complementary renewed celebration of the immanence of God in creation.

2. The teaching that care for creation is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian.

3. The understanding that regional or bioregional assessments of environmental issues are needed, and that means for addressing them must be devised.

4. A developing sense of the sacredness and dignity of all creation.

5. A recognition of the relationship between environmental degradation and human poverty.

6. The emerging shift from decidedly anthropocentric-domination ideas to a stewardship-caretaking perspective, and

7. The beginning of a subtle shift from the stewardship perspective to a relational consciousness in church teachings about humanity’s interdependence with other creatures, in their common and integrated ecosystems, within creation as a whole.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Crisis and concern

1. Creation, creatures, and community consideration

2. Common ground and common good

3. Sacramental and communal creation

4. Transforming tradition and conserving creation: northern visions

5. Transforming tradition and conserving creation: southern visions

6. Creation consciousness and concern

7. Care for creation and community