Is Catholicism and Ecology Compatible?

As I continue in my college studies. I’m thinking of majoring or minoring in ecology.

I was wondering if Catholicism and ecology are compatible and not contradictory?

Ecology, Earth Science, Conservation, whatever it’s named, the study of our stewardship of the earth is very compatible with being Catholic. The study of ecosystems, how intricately connected our world is, and protecting our resources is very much part of our prime directive since Genesis, however you understand it.

I’m not sure how it could be contradictory unless some “Eco-nazi” professor has an anti-Catholic ax to grind.

Good luck and be sure to look at,and research, career possibilities with this degree.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding the question. As a field of study, Ecology is compatible with Catholicism.

Why would you you suspect otherwise?

A wise post worth repeating:thumbsup:

I believe the Pope has emphasized the point that we need to be better stewards of the Earth than we have been.

I think ecology is very compatible with Catholicism. My first major was forestry. I wish I had stuck with it.

As a science ecology is certainly compatible with Catholicism. As a political movement some parts of Green philosophy are radically incompatible. This does not exclude significant overlap though. I looked at some of the issues in a recent blog about the threat of extinction facing pangolins (scaly anteaters.)

Much of the difference revolves around the ideas that a) humans have dominion over earth and b) humans are innately superior to animals by virtue of possessing a spirit and the capacity to use their reason to love God. On the first I wrote-

In this context the question about whether the story of Eden is factual or not is entirely inconsequential. What it presents us with, Christians believe, is a divinely sanctioned paradigm for the exercise of human dominion over our environment. The Catechism of the Council of Trent gives us this picture of it-
Man’s soul He created to His own image and likeness; gifted him with free will, and tempered all his motions and appetites, so as to subject them, at all times, to the dictates of reason. He then added the invaluable gift of original righteousness, and next gave him dominion over all other animals.
So the dominion is conditional upon several things, that is to say it is fettered. Man (short for humanity) must act after the image and likeness of God as outlined above. Man must be subject to the dictates of reason not to those of appetite and immediate gratification. Man must act righteously that is to say justly, mercifully and virtuously. Then, and only then can he exercise dominion over his fellow non-human creatures.

And on the second-

Only Man has the capacity to consciously and deliberately destroy this or that part of the environment or species or indeed the whole of our shared planet. Only Man is capable of becoming aware that the unintended consequences of his activity will have destructive consequences but yet deciding to continue these activities with a reckless disregard and an indifference both to those with whom he shares the planet and future generations of his own species. Only Man can lie to himself about the effects of his own actions and use the lie as a justification for continuing. In short if Redeemed Man is the apex of Creation sinful Man is its nadir. It is therefore the duty of Christians to struggle against the sinful propensities of Man and to defend with a passion all that God has entrusted to us to defend. The development of a well balanced Christian approach to the environment rests not so much upon a vaunted boast of superiority as it does upon a struggle against Mans tendency to degrade himself as a prelude to degrading all that surrounds him.

Yes, it can be and naturally is. Look into the history of the monastic life of the Church in the various Orders and you’ll find out that quite a bit of stewardship of the earth and her resources was lived and practiced as a virtue in their quiet lives. They were very “green” before the tree huggers invented the term.

But, there is a limit to our practical stewardship. Those who would sack the economies of third world countries because the global ecosystem cannot stand to live without the oxygen produced by the rain forest and they pick the trees over the population and try to prevent them from utilizing their own natural resources, well, we know how well that goes over, don’t we? There are extreme positions in any field, so you can find plenty to be wary of even in the mild mannered ecologist who spends his or her days collecting water samples in remote locations for bacterial counts, etc. I still shy away from those who claim global warming is a good reason for global policing of industries that pollute. More like the seeking of world dominance by a single entity if you ask me and the end of free market economies on the whole.

Oh dear, I’ve said too much again. Please, forgive me. I’m really no expert on any thing but cherry turnovers and coffee early cause I’m going to a later Mass today.


In many cases it’s just the opposite, a situation of multinationals destroying forests and the peoples who depend on the subsistence the forests provide them so as to meet the demand of 1st world people for beef, oil, aluminum, or other products…(we should really be recycling more and eating lower on the food chain! Reduce, reuse, recycle and going on alt energy when feasible.)

However, as an anthropologist, I am also against “fortress conservation” that excludes the native peoples by pushing them out of their forests and lands (on which they have lived for 1000s of years) to conserve these. Native peoples are often the best stewards of their ecosystems.

Also, from what I’ve learned in environmental anthropology some of indigenous peoples (the ones who have lived in their ecosystems for 1000s of years) know more about ecology and the various species in their ecosystems than scientists. It is worth it to learn from these more knowledgeable indigenous peoples.

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