Dr. Pablo Martínez de Anguita present us a marvelous description about his  reconciliation experience between science and faith, two ways to recognize the wisdom of God


Dr. Pablo Martinez is catholic, researcher and university professor of environmental economics. The history of Dr.Pablo with nature dates since many years ago when he used to contemplate the beauty of the landscape in his village in Andalusia, Spain.

Pablo tell us about his own experience: “I fell in love with forests and I decided to become a forester.  When I was studying my second year of forestry I was invited to spend a summer in Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya. One day I went to Mother´s Teresa house for dying, poor and abandoned people in one of the most miserable, dirtiest and worst-smelling neighborhoods I have seen in my life. I was playing the guitar for some children when a dark shadow moving on the ground started to approach me. At first, I thought it was a dog, but when it came closer I realized it was a girl. She could not stand, as she had polio. She had also a hunch–back, and she was not beautiful, at least at first sight. My first thought was that her life was not worthy… but then, she touched me and smiled at me as I was playing my music. I still feel a deep emotion when I remember it. My life changed as a kind of electricity entered into me and gave me the persistent desire to love life beyond its appearance, a desire that I still have. I worked for some pro-life movements and by the end of my forestry studies, I became a volunteer in an environmental and development program in Central America.

A few years later I was given a Fulbright scholarship to do a master´s degree in environmental economics at the State University of New York at Syracuse. My ecological economics professor once told me, “If you want to be serious and you work with me, you will lose your faith. I can explain everything from thermodynamics… God is just energy….” My problem was not only about stochastic explanations about the origin of universe, or about the thermodynamic reasons for the need of virginity in ancient tribes based on the relationship between grass, goats and the numbers of wives, age of marriage and therefore children that the survival of a semi-desertic Mediterranean clan based on the possible food availability could afford. It was also the new context.  There were temples of hundreds of religions all around; and in opposition to my previous experience in a deeply conservative Catholic school and Catholic university groups, there were no priests or Catholic signs around. I had a faith crisis: Was my religion real? Was it just one more? Was it just a set of moral compromises to be able to live in a society? Could it really give an answer to the environmental crisis? After working a few months with my dear professor I lost my faith.

I essentially had lost my faith while speaking with several professors about nature, ecology, or science. For some of them everything could be explained through ecology and evolution which at the end could be explained from thermodynamics; for others a clean rationality –where feelings are aseptically excluded -was the only tool valid to achieve knowledge. As it seemed to me that my beliefs were based on feelings which could not be considered as a valid source of knowledge, with a big pain in my heart I decided to join this new paradigm following my reason at the same time I tried to judge what could be saved from my tradition in order to avoid a total break with it.

After that experience, I was invited to return to Spain as a professor at the Catholic University of Avila, where I met some people from Communion and Liberation, the movement founded by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, specifically my friends Ramón, Gloria, Luis and Merche. We were office mates. At that time, our Dean asked me to write about my main concern, nature conservation, and compare it with the Catholic Church’s view on the subject. He asked me to be honest and, at that moment, I thought I would be fired if I went to the heart of the matter.

I spent a few years studying and I became amazed with the answer. The Church was opening to me an understanding of the answer that ecological movements or ecologists like me were requiring at the same time as it was answering the questions that caused me to lose my faith in New York. I must say that I discovered this through to my friends.

I published my first book on this subject in Span[i]sh. ( La tierra prometida: Una respuesta a la cuetión ecológica)  I then spent one summer back in the United States at Harvard University studying what has been called “Ecotheology,” and later on at Yale University as a professor of “natural resources management”. I compared the basis of many of these thoughts with those of Luigi Guissani. By that time, I had become a member of Communion and Liberation.

Father Giussani´s readings were giving me the explanation I required to overcome my intellectual and personal difficulties in becoming a real Catholic coherent with my ecologist believes. Don Giuss, as he was known by his friends, was asking me to look into myself without prejudices to find, as he defined it, an “authentic” foundation in relation with my most intimate self, my “I,” in order to preserve nature. His readings were explaining how behind every beauty we find, there is not only an apparently hopeless and vain desire in scientific terms for the infinite, for eternity, but a true sign of love and attraction: we are attracted to the infinite through the beauty we find, and we can follow this path traced by the correspondence between my “heart” and that ultimate Mystery. In fact, among many other paths, this Infinite is always reclaiming us through the beauty of nature. My task for natural resources management, restoration or conservation could be “saved,” as it could be done in accordance with my deepest desire for the infinite without being irrational or unreasonable. Don Giuss was broadening my reason to understand who I fully was and, therefore he was showing me the real relevance of my life, relationships and work through ecological restoration.

From my Catholic faith, I can say that Christ has come to this world to open, show and confirm our correspondence between the Mystery and us; as Father Giussani would say, he came to this world to assure that “none of our hopes or desires for beauty of our human heart will be lost”.

Additionally, I would like to mention a phrase of Albert Einstein who once said that there were only two ways to live our lives. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. The Catholic Church has helped me to make more understandable the fact that the second hypothesis is more reasonable than the first, and to suggest that this hypothesis leads us to live our lives open to accepting with familiarity the surprises hidden for us in the natural world as our way to the Mystery of God”

Faith and Environment in Assisi

Below are some of the highlights of the Popes messages from his visit to Assisi, in honor of the patron saint of creation, St. Francis.

1. Respect Creation –  human ecology: First is the Pope’s Homily in Assisi where the Pope remember’s Franci’s love for Creation. And in full continuity with his predecessors, he also affirms the love for mankind, and the centrality of human beings in creation.

Francis began the Canticle of the Creatures with these words: “Praised may you be, Most High, All-powerful God, good Lord… by all your creatures (FF, 1820). Love for all creation, for its harmony. Saint Francis of Assisi bears witness to the need to respect all that God has created and as he created it, without manipulating and destroying creation; rather to help it grow, to become more beautiful and more like what God created it to be. And above all, Saint Francis witnesses to respect for everyone, he testifies that each of us is called to protect our neighbour, that the human person is at the centre of creation, at the place where God – our creator – willed that we should be. Not at the mercy of the idols we have created! Harmony and peace! Francis was a man of harmony and peace. From this City of Peace, I repeat with all the strength and the meekness of love: Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction! Let us respect each human being. May there be an end to armed conflicts which cover the earth with blood; may the clash of arms be silenced; and everywhere may hatred yield to love, injury to pardon, and discord to unity. Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering and who are dying because of violence, terrorism or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world. We turn to you, Francis, and we ask you: Obtain for us God’s gift of harmony, peace and respect for creation!

2. The Incarnation – “God loves matter”: The Pope affirms an important aspect of the Christian approach to reality, which loves matter and creation. It expresses the ability to see the physical and spiritual as related, and not divided. I have spoken of this before here and here.

When a cloistered nun consecrates her entire life to the Lord, a transformation happens beyond our understanding. It would be natural to think that this nun becomes isolated, alone with the Absolute, alone with God: it is an ascetic and penitent life. But this is not the path neither of a Catholic nor a Christian cloistered nun. The path always leads to Jesus Christ, always! Jesus Christ is at the centre of your life, your penitence, your community life, your prayer and also of the universality of prayer. And on this path the opposite of what one might think, happens to an ascetic cloistered nun. When she takes this path of contemplating Jesus Christ, of prayer and penitence with Jesus Christ, she becomes extremely human. Cloistered nuns are called to have a great humanity, a humanity like that of the Mother Church; human, to understand everything about life, to be people who know how to understand human problems, how to forgive, how to supplicate the Lord on behalf of others. Your humanity. Your humanity takes this road, the Incarnation of the Word, the path of Jesus Christ. And what is the mark of such a human nun? Joy, joy, when there is joy! I am sad when I find nuns who are not joyful. Perhaps they smile, but with the smile of a flight attendant….because that nun, like the Church, is on the path of being an expert in humanity. And this is your path: not too spiritual! When paths are too spiritual… I think for example of the foundress of the monasteries of your competition St Teresa. When a nun came to her, oh, with these things… she said to the cook: “Get her a steak!”. Always with Jesus Christ always. The humanity of Jesus Christ! Because the Word became flesh, God became flesh for us and this gives you human sanctity that is great, beautiful, mature, the sanctity of a mother. … Remember the story of St Teresa’s steak! It is important.

3. A culture of acceptance, not waste: The Pope insists on the theme of changing our culture of waste when he spoke to the sick and disabled children. He has connected this before to the environment. To be better environmentalists, we need to be good people first, loving, forgiving, giving…

Unfortunately, society has been polluted by the culture of “waste”, which is opposed to the culture of acceptance. And the victims of this culture of waste are precisely persons who are the weakest, the most fragile. In this home, however, I see a culture of acceptance in action. Of course, not everything can be perfect here either, but you are working together for a dignified life for those people in grave difficulty. Thank you for this sign of love that you offer us: this is a sign of true citizenship, human and Christian! Put the most disadvantaged people at the centre of social and political attention! At times instead families find themselves alone in taking care of them. What should we do? In this place real love can be seen, I say to everyone: let us multiply our work in the culture of acceptance, works primarily enlivened by a deep Christian love, love for the Crucified Christ, for the flesh of Christ, works which join together professionality, skilled work properly compensated with volunteer work, a precious treasure.

Serving with love and tenderness those who are in great need helps us to grow in humanity because they are true resources of humanity. St Francis was a rich young man, he had ideals of glory but Jesus, in the person of a leper, spoke to him in silence and he changed him, he made him understand what truly mattered in life: not wealth, nor power of weapons, nor earthly glory, but humility, mercy and forgiveness.

4. Know your dogs: This is less serious, but the Pope urged parish priests to know not only the name of their parishioners but also of their dogs. He connected it to the very Christian experience of walking, or pilgrimage as a people of God.

Here I think once more of you priests, and let me place myself in your company. What could be more beautiful for us than walking with our people? It is beautiful! When I think of the parish priests who knew the names of their parishioners, who went to visit them; even as one of them told me: “I know the name of each family’s dog”. They even knew the dog’s name! How nice it was! What could be more beautiful than this? I repeat it often: walking with our people, sometimes in front, sometimes behind and sometimes in the middle, and sometimes behind : in front in order to guide the community, in the middle in order to encourage and support; and at the back in order to keep it united and so that no one lags too, too far behind, to keep them united. There is another reason too: because the people have a “nose”! The people scent out, discover, new ways to walk, it has the “sensus fidei,” as theologians call it. What could be more beautiful than this?




By José Ambozic

The term Human Ecology has been used since long time ago in many contexts, but it was used firstable in 1991 by Pope John Paul II to mention the whole of the environment and conditions conducive to the healthy life, development and fulfillment of the human person. This seems a providential perspective to bring together and make relevant and appealing to current social debates, the richness of the Catholic view of the human person and its social teachings.

To begin with environmental protection, there are deep differences surrounding the meaning and nature of the environment and the role played by humans. The Christian tradition places humans at the center of God’s created environment and confers both rights and duties on humans. In God’s created environment humans have a right to use nature but also a duty to care for it. They must be the stewards of nature, not only for utilitarian reasons, but above all in furtherance of God’s Plan by cherishing and nurturing a flourishing environment in which all creatures  fulfill God’s plan and give him glory.

In order to get a sustainable development (SD) in the world, which requires an integrative perspective of economy, environment and social inputs, Catholic Human Ecology can contribute to clarify, reconcile, and find a path of resolution to most of the current conflicts that undermine  this SD  by:

–          Building a space and method for dialogue that allows men and women of good will from different intellectual, cultural and faith persuasions to interact and cooperate towards the common goal of SD; such as in Benedict’s speeches in Regensburg, La Sapienza and the German Parliament .

–          Providing an account of the human person and nature that allows to integrate them and their well-being harmoniously in a way that gives sense and meaning; a way to understand and recognize order and purpose, and along with this, mystery and beauty, relationality with God and others; all integrated in solidarity and harmony that point toward communion;

–          Providing the moral and spiritual persuasion to engage people in the reverent and dedicated care for the environment, and the conviction to undergo the costs and sacrifices it might involve;

–          Providing an understanding of the relations between the economy, human progress – including the role of solidarity and subsidiarity- and the care for the environment and for the ordering the social space;

–          Moving the discussion of social issues from the individual and his rights, to the common good of the human ecology that we all shape with our actions and in which we all flourish or wither.

Climate Change, IPCC reports and Pope Francis

Much has been said about climate change in recent times due to the last IPCC’s report, the Fifth Assessment Report. Here are some media articles on ABC and BBC, and a media debate about a meteorologists radical response here. Below is a video about how the information is spun to the general public.

But what does the report actually say? Well, the official summary is here and a briefer version here with headlines (thanks Duarte). A careful analysis by Roger Pielke Jr. however, shows that not that much has changed in this report. Below are Roger’s five conclusions, whcih he expalins in the article here:

1. The core scientific understandings remain unchanged

2. The IPCC itself is still engaged in PR spin and messaging

3. We will not be able to clearly distinguish the influence of that human influence from natural variability for decades:

4. Actions to mitigate climate through reductions in carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) will not have a detectable effect on climate until after mid-century.

5. There is not a strong scientific basis for claiming a discernible effect of human-caused climate change on hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought.

This is a familiar conclusion to readers of this blog, so I won’t belabor it (more to come soon on this). Here is what the IPCC SPM says about each looking out to mid-century:

  • Hurricanes (tropical cyclones):  “Low confidence” in both a “human contribution to observed changes” and “likelihood of future changes”
  • Floods: No comments in the SPM
  • Tornadoes: No comments in the SPM
  • Drought:  “Low confidence” in both a “human contribution to observed changes” and “likelihood of future changes”
The conclusions with respect to hurricanes and drought both represent a walking back from more aggressive conclusions reported in 2007, and should not be a surprise to readers here, as that is what the literature says. Kudos to the IPCC for getting this right.
The last point I reproduced in its entirety because of how the disaster information contrasts with the ABC video on climate change, suggesting a very tight relationship. The apocalyptic alarmism is apparent in the video and many media responses, but not in the actual report. For more detail see Roger’s latest post on disaster events alone and the IPCC 5 report here, and a comment on how to deal with climate change as opposed to more apocalyptic visions:

The IPCC should put to rest silly claims that action on emissions, even very aggressive actions, can have a meaningful effect on short-term weather and climate.Here is a prominent example of such a claim from Al Gore eight days ago:

Three years ago, Congress failed to put a price on carbon and, in doing so, allowed global warming pollution to continue unabated. We have seen the disturbing consequences that the climate crisis has to offer—from a drought that covered 60% of our nation to Superstorm Sandy which wreaked havoc and cost the taxpayers billions, from wildfires spreading across large areas of the American West to severe flooding in cities all across our country—we have seen what happens when we fail to act. 

 Now, what does all this have to do with Pope Francis? Well recently he met with cultural and academic representatives and gave an exegesis of the passage of the disciples of Emmaus in order to provide a diagnosis of the modern attitude to crisis, which falls into apocalyptic visions and catastrophism at large:

The hearts of the two disciples are filled with suffering and bewilderment at the death of Jesus; they are disappointed by how things have ended. We find a similar sentiment in our present situation: disappointment,disillusionment as a result of an economic and financial crisis, but also of an ecological, educational, moral and human crisis. It is a crisis that concerns the present and future of the history and life of man in our western civilization and that ends in affecting the entire world. And when I say crisis, I am not thinking of tragedy. When the Chinese want to write the word crisis, they write it with two characters: the character for danger and the character for opportunity. When we speak of crises, we are speaking of dangers, but also of opportunities. This is the sense in which I am using the word. Of course every age of history contains critical elements, but in the last four centuries, we have never seen the fundamental certainties that make up human life so shaken as in our time. I am thinking of the deterioration of the environment: this is dangerous, let us think ahead a little to the war over water which is to come; to social imbalances; to the terrible power of weapons — we have said so much about this in recent days—; to the economic and financial system which puts money, the god of money, rather than man at the centre rather than man; to the development and the burden of the media, with all of its positive aspects, of communications and of transportation. It is a change that concerns the very way in which humanity keeps its existence in the world going.

2. What are the reactions in the face of this reality? Let us return to the two disciples of Emmaus: disappointed at Jesus’ death, they show resignation and try to flee from reality, they leave Jerusalem. We can read these same attitudes at this time in history too. In the face of this crisis, there can be resignation, pessimism about the possibility of taking any effective action. In a certain sense it is “calling us out” of the same dynamic as the present historical turning point, by denouncing its more negative aspects with a mindset similar to that spiritual and theological movement of the second century A.D. that was called “apocalyptic”. We are tempted to think in apocalyptic terms. This pessimistic understanding of human freedom and of the process of history leads to a kind of paralysis of mind and will. Disillusionment also leads to a kind of escapism, to looking for “islands” or a reprieve. It is something like Pilate’s attitude of “washing his hands”. It is an attitude which appears to be “pragmatic”, but which in fact ignores the cry for justice, humanity and social responsibility and leads to individualism and hypocrisy, if not to a sort of cynicism. This is the temptation we are faced with, if we go down the road of disenchantment and disappointment.

At this point we wonder: is there a way forward in our present situation? Should we resign ourselves to it? Should we allow our hope to be dimmed? Should we flee from reality? Should we “wash our hands of it” and withdraw into ourselves? I not only think that there is a way forward, but also that the very moment in history which we are living urges us to seek and find paths of hope that open our society to new horizons. And this is where the role of the university is so very valuable. The university as a place for the development and transmission of knowledge, for the formation in “wisdom” in the deepest sense of the word, for the integral education of the human person. In this regard, I would like to offer several brief points of reflection.

a. The university as a place of discernment. It is important to interpret reality by looking it in the face. Ideological or partial interpretations are useless; they only feed illusion and disillusionment. It is important to interpret reality, but also to live this reality without fear, without fleeing, without catastrophism…

I think this theologic-sociological interpretation of our current condition can explain much of the draw within the climate debate towards an apocalyptic interpretation. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much with the climate, but the lowly and desperate gaze of human beings who have lost their transcendent horizon and are dormant towards the divine. WIth eyes opened to what is truly important, incorrect interpretations would perhaps subside. To the young people of Sardinia, the Pope gave them a message about what they should do facing the world’s crisis:

And journey on in this life with Jesus: the saints did it.They are ordinary people who instead of complaining “let down their nets for a catch”. Imitate their example, entrust yourselves to their intercession and always be men and women of hope! No complaining! No discouragement! Never be depressed, never go to purchase comfort from death: none of it! Go forward with Jesus! He never fails, he never disappoints, he is loyal!

Stewardship of Creation and Stewardship of the Body Lifestyle to Promote the Reconciliation with God, Ourselves, with Others and Creation.

We want to present you another post extracted from the Creatio Conference in the WYD in Rio de Janeiro this year.

Thank you  to Dr. Thomas R. Collingwood for his amazing presentation.



The underlying priority of all efforts for environmental integrity, energy justice and care for creation is a concern for the dignity and well being of the human person

The challenge in addressing the need for economic development, environmental protection, over consumerism and over utilization of energy resources while maintaining respect for the needs and dignity of human persons is complicated.. Nevetheless in this confllict  we do not forget that  the underlying priority of all efforts for environmental integrity, energy justice and care for creation is a concern for the dignity and well being of the human person following the mentioned by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.


Nowadays, as never before, it is require  the practice of a stewardship ethic and lifestyle  that can be an “end”, meeting the needs of God‘s creation (the environment). In the same way, the process of developing and practicing a stewardship ethic and lifestyle is also a “means”, for meeting the needs of the human person. Unfortunately, with modern day “psycho babble”, many human needs and problems can get inappropriately defined as “disorders”. However, there can be a role for the use of such terminology and, in terms of environmental and personal health issues, I have found two “deficit disorders” whose realities have implications for stewardship and caring for creation. In turn, those “deficit disorders” are reflective of the disconnection consequences from the ruptures of sin in the world explored within reconciliation theology.


The first reality is that many youth suffer from nature deficit disorder. This term, made popular by Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods”, refers to the fact that many of us (but especially youth) are disconnected and alienated from nature. As a consequence many do not know, understand or appreciate God’s creation with the resultant effect of not caring about the environment, being afraid of nature.


The second reality is that of youth and adults suffering from exercise deficit disorder.It refers to the fact that there is a corresponding disconnection and alienation from physical activity. The result is a lack of energy and the development of many health related problems such as obesity.

The consequences of this is that we see, for many youth, lifestyle habits that lead to an unconcern for creation, an epidemic of obesity and inactivity, and lack of exercise. Inactive individuals are not going to be involved in nature activities.


As John Paul II stated: “…society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at lifestyle.”


I have defined a model with five phases to overcome nature deficit disorder. To proceed from Step 1 through step 5, individuals must develop:


  1. FAMILIARITY with creation through experiences with the natural world.
  2. APPRECIATION for the natural world which can be accomplished by reflecting on experiences with creation.
  3. AWARENESS that there is more to know of nature, environmental problems and an ethic for how we should respond to those problems.
  4. CONCERN for the environment. This precedes taking action and provides motivation for the final step.
  5. STEWARDSHIP lifestyle to act to respond to environmental issues.


Those five phases can be viewed as objectives for developing a stewardship lifestyle. In turn, there are three steps to meeting those objectives which provide the framework for leading one through those five phases: Encountering, Exploring and Engaging.


  • ENCOUNTERING God’s creation and nature. The process of encountering is to awaken enthusiasm for nature to have a familiarity and appreciation with creation.
  • EXPLORING environmental issues and ethics.  This involves becoming aware of the major environmental issues, the human role in them, and a Catholic based ethic for addressing them. In addition, it can involve a process for examining personal lifestyle and community needs.
  • ENGAGING creation. This is the action element where concern motivates stewardship actions individually and collectively.


A quote from John Paul II illustrates this: “It is the duty of Christians and all who look to God the Creator to protect the environment by restoring a sense of reverence for the whole of God’s creation. It is the Creator’s will that man should treat nature not as ruthless exploiter but as an intelligent and responsible administrator.”


The experience of providing outdoor education and exercise programs has led to the conclusion that stewardship of the environment can be favorably affected by individuals becoming more active and physically fit. The human body is a self-regulating energy producer and user. Governments, especially of developed nations and educational institutions, are encouraged to promote individual physical activity and consequent physical fitness to develop more efficient energy systems within their bodies. In turn, the use of self-movement modalities such as walking and cycling can decrease the reliance on fossil fuel based transportation. At another level, a fit and active individual has the energy and discipline to be more actively involved in environmental stewardship actions – individually and collectively.


Physical activity can be a powerful vehicle for developing a stewardship ethic through activities that connect with nature. While the focus here is on exercise and fitness within the context of stewardship, facilitating a fit and active lifestyle is also, by itself, a positive force for one’s physical and mental health. In summary, by caring for your body, you care for creation. A parallel five-phase process can be developed:


  1. FAMILIARITY with one’s body by having experiences with movement and activity.
  2. APPRECIATION for the body’s capability to give us energy, strength and physical prowess. This can be accomplished by reflecting on the body’s response to being stressed through exercise.
  3. Developing an AWARENESS to seek to know more of the physical, mental and spiritual ethic for why we need to train our body.
  4. CONCERN for the body and physical fitness. This precedes taking action and provides motivation for the final step.
  5. A STEWARDSHIP lifestyle to act to respond to the nutritional and exercise needs of the body.


The same three steps to meeting these objectives can be operationalized for stewardship of the body:


  • ENCOUNTERING the body by experiencing and observing its reactions to physical activity.
  • EXPLORING health and fitness issues and ethics.  This involves becoming aware of one’s level of physical activity and fitness and a Catholic based ethic for being fit.
  • ENGAGING your body. This is the action element where concern motivates practicing an exercise and nutritional lifestyle to develop energy and dynamic health.


Physical activity, while directly confronting exercise deficit disorder, also serves as a nature connection process to overcome nature deficit disorder. Taking walks and hikes in public lands, doing simple yard work to being involved in a variety of environmental preservation, conservation and restoration endeavors can all be vehicles to increase physical activity and interact with nature. In turn, the process of developing fitness provides the energy needed to perform environmental stewardship activities.


Finally, the development of a stewardship of creation and stewardship of the body lifestyle can provide a means to confront nature deficit and exercise deficit disorders. Likewise, it provides a process to develop a stewardship ethic that translates to a concern and commitment to care for God’s creation. At another level a stewardship lifestyle serves as concrete actions to facilitate the need for reconciliation with God, ourselves, with others and creation.