Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Websire Reviews: Catholics and the Environment

Originally Published in the Septermber 2009 issue of Intercom.
Reproduced with kind permission.

Catholics are increasingly being called to respect God’s creation and deal with environmental issues, particularly as they affect the poor. Various statements from the Vatican have highlighted the moral imperative for Catholics to care for God’s creation and its impact on those least able to respond. The Internet is increasingly becoming the global forum for discussions based on making climate change such an urgent moral imperative.

The Education section of the Catholic and Climate website allows you to search for information on climate change in general as well as curricula, articles, FAQs, and PowerPoint presentations to assist those working in schools and parishes to inform others about the growing concern of climate change on a global scale. This website is run by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, a membership organization consisting of twelve national Catholic organizations, launched in 2006 to help the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to offer advice and assistance in implementing its programs.
The site is particularly beneficial in terms of demonstrating how Catholic principles and teachings such as prudence, poverty and the common good may be applied to climate change. The sections on News and current resources would be particularly useful to those involved in education.

The site also links to the Climate Covenant website which builds on the steady progress of the Church’s efforts to embrace an ethic of environmental stewardship by highlighting the themes of “covenant, creation, and poverty” by encouraging and assisting Catholic institutions, organisations, parishes and individuals to join the Covenant by taking the St. Francis Pledge (available on the website), a response to climate-change impacts on creation and people in poverty and sharing good news about the ongoing and impressive ways in which the Catholic community is carrying out the Catholic Climate Covenant to honour our obligations toward God’s gift of creation.

Catholic Earthcare Australia was established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in May, 2002 and received its present Mandate in May, 2003. As an agency of the Catholic Bishops Commission for Justice and Service, Catholic Earthcare Australia's mission is to help promote understanding among people that Creation is sacred and endangered, and must be protected and sustained for present and future generations. This website is an excellent example of the theories behind the focus on climate change becoming practical issues. The site shows how the imperatives affect schools and parishes and how you can audit your own environment with practical measures to include in your daily life to help protect the environment.

Intercom Article-Blogging

Published in the July/August 2009 edition of Intercom magazine.

Reproduced by kind permission.

Even those who do not regularly surf the Internet would be aware of the recent rise in popularity of “blogs” or “weblogs”. A blog is very much like a personal diary or journal that is posted regularly online to be shared with friends or the “blogosphere” in general. Some describe the method of communication as a daily pulpit or your own memo to the world. Blogs have reshaped the web, impacted politics, shaken up journalism, and enabled millions of people to have a voice and connect with others. One of the main benefits of this phenomenon is that as there are literally millions of blogs in cyberspace, there are no real rules for running your own; anyone with anything to say or share is able to let their opinion be heard. So while blogs are certainly an excellent way of learning what other people and parishes are doing to improve their parish life or get people involved in their Liturgy why not take the plunge and visit a website and set up your own for yourself or for your parish group? I have recently set up my own blog through this site so feel free to visit the site and pose any questions you may have about the very simple process.

If you would rather see what others have to offer rather than publish your own thoughts, The Deacon's Bench is an excellent site to start with. Written and maintained by a Catholic deacon, the benefit of blogs may be instantly seen. The writer posts on current events both in the Church and the world in general and offers links and information on a wide variety of current subjects. For a more general selection, Catholic Blogs offers updated articles daily from over a thousand Catholic blogs and is a good site to get a general overview of what blogs have to offer. More specifically, the London Times blog on Religion and Faith written by Libby Purves and Bess Twiston Davies  is an excellent source of current information on world religions and trends. The blog is updated at least daily and often features superb pictures and links. Most blogs follow the same format of indexing their subject matter under “categories” so that you can easily search for a topic of your choice and this blog offers a very wide range. Closer to home, the blogs on Catholic Ireland are run by Sacred Space and features nine bloggers, giving a wide range of focus and opinions about current affairs. It also gives very helpful information on RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. This system of subscription features on most blogs and means that you can link the blog to your homepage (for example) with just a few simple clicks and get an instant update when a new post on your favourite blog is published.