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Catholic Social ActivismProgressive Movements in the United States$
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Sharon Erickson Nepstad

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479885480

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479885480.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Earth Ethics and American Catholic Environmentalism

Earth Ethics and American Catholic Environmentalism

(p.146) 6 Earth Ethics and American Catholic Environmentalism
Catholic Social Activism

Sharon Erickson Nepstad

NYU Press

This chapter notes that American Catholics were initially quite reluctant to embrace environmentalism. It asks, after decades of political engagement with labor, poverty, peace, women’s rights, and immigration, why did US Catholics largely overlook the growing environmental problems in the twentieth century? And what caused this to change in the early twenty-first century? The chapter summarizes early Catholic efforts to promote environmentalism and describes the initial responses of the Catholic Church and its members, who often prioritized human needs over environmental matters. It also describes how the Catholic Church and Catholic laypeople started placing greater emphasis on the environment toward the end of the twentieth century. The chapter then surveys the main themes of various Catholic teachings and publications—from the US Catholic Bishops Conference’s Renewing the Earth (1991) to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si (2015)—that have given impetus to more Catholic environmental action. The chapter concludes with a description of the work of two activist groups: the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, an ecumenical organization, and Catholic Climate Change.

Keywords:   Environmentalism, Pope Francis, Laudato Si, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Catholic Climate Change

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