PROVIDENCE — What does the Catholic Church teach about our responsibility toward life and all that God has created? How can we address the “throw-away” culture of today? What are some of the local and international issues today, and what should be a response for all people of good will and in a special way for Catholics?
The diocesan Office of Faith Formation is planning a series of forums which will address these questions as it looks to engage participants in developing an authentic Catholic response to some of the ecological questions of the day.
The first of these forums, Care for Creation: The Catholic Church and Ecology, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Aquinas Lounge at Providence College, with free parking available at Anderson Stadium Garage.
Participants will benefit from the insight offered by noted theologians Dr. Chad Pecknold of the Catholic University of America and Dr. Charlie Camosy of Fordham University, along with Allen Ottaro of CYNESA, a group dedicated to addressing ecological concerns in Africa. Terry Gray, deputy director of RI DEM, will discuss a local perspective and share insight into initiatives to help Rhode Islanders act locally.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said the Care for Creation series not only promotes good stewardship of our planet and its resources to ensure its survival as our home, it is also a testament to our faith.
“Promoting a healthy environment and protecting our common home is an important and legitimate priority for the Church. It’s much more than a political issue — It’s an expression of our faith. The Diocese of Providence is proud to be part of these ongoing discussions.”
Ed Trendowski, director of the Office of Faith Formation, said the forums will focus on the role of the Church as the “pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) in examining issues concerning the environment.
“While the political world has its role to play in addressing these questions, the Catholic Church has a unique role to play, particularly when addressing key moral issues associated with ecology,” Trendowski said.
In addition to the Church recognizing that human beings are unique in the order of creation, created in the image of God, it also identifies the purpose of creation, as stated in the Catechism of The Catholic Church.
“The purpose of creation is to give glory to God,” Trendowski said.
“The Catechism also points out, ‘Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation. As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over ‘the work of God,’ that is, solemn worship. This indicates the right order of human concerns’” (CCC 347).
“Since God has given dominion over some aspects of creation to human beings, it is our hope that these eco events can help us to discern God’s will for us and determine authentic ways of caring for creation,” Trendowski added.
The Office of Faith Formation has been working with several people, including local Catholic writer and DEM engineer Bill Patenaude, to produce Care for Creation.
“Our natural environment is viewed best when seen through the dual Catholic lenses of faith and reason — that is, with a firm belief in God, his teachings and revelation, and through the eyes of objective science. And that’s exactly what these events will be showcasing,” said Patenaude, who writes an occasional column on Faith and Ecology for Rhode Island Catholic. He has also served as an engineer for the RI Department of Environmental Management for the past 31 years.
“Building unity and understanding are the goals of the Care for Creation Series,” he said.
While the event on Oct. 19 at Providence College will address the “throw-away” culture we find ourselves in, the one scheduled for Oct. 22, the memorial of St. John Paul II, will feature a panel of speakers at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul who will look at consumer habits and local and global impact. On Oct. 24, at the Community Preparatory School in Providence, a panel will discuss climate change.
To register for any of these events, please visit www.discovercatholicfaith.org.