Care for nature means care for unborn: Green theologian

Care for nature means care for unborn: Green theologian Fr Sean McDonagh. Photo Credit: The Catholic Leader.

Climate issues are becoming “centre stage” but talk has to be matched with actions, Columban eco-theologian and author Fr Sean McDonagh has said.

Fr McDonagh said while he was delighted by gains made by the Green Party in last week’s elections, he expressed disappointment at the party’s support for abortion.

“We are turning vegetarian, [thinking] maybe we shouldn’t be eating other animals and talking about an ‘ethics of care’ for other animals, and I’m in favour of it, but what about an ethics of care for our unborn?” he asked.

Commenting on how people could be helped “join up the dots” to understand human life needing protection too, he said: “All we can do is re-state our position from the context of the lives of both people involved.”

“How do you protect someone who has no rights? Those rights are taken away from her,” he said.


Fr McDonagh, the author of many books on the environment, said the green vote reflected how seriously people were thinking of climate change, driven on too by the young protesters outside the Dáil.

“They are saying ‘What future are you leaving us? If we’re going to head for three degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, that will fry half the areas of the earth’.”

Maintaining that it would not be enough simply to pay lip service to climate issues, Fr McDonagh noted that the cost of retrofitting houses will cost billions and the issue of methane in agriculture has to be addressed.

“Those are difficult decisions and that’s where we get to know if they [the government] have gone green or ‘greenwash’,” he told The Irish Catholic.

Now scientists are talking about a two-metre rise in sea level in the next 100 years, he continued. “Just think about what would happen to Dublin, to Cork, to Waterford, to Limerick and Galway.”

The Columban priest said the Church should speak more about climate change in an ecumenical context using the papal encyclical Laudato Si’.  “I’ve gone with it to the Green Party. It is a first-class document.

“The science is extraordinary. The theology is wonderful, so we have to be very grateful that this Pope has given us such hope in this area.”