Fr Seán McDonagh SSC

Care For Creation Is High On Pope Benedict's Priority List

By Fr Seán McDonagh SSC

Care for creation has become a central theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. In July 2008, he told the dignitaries gathered to welcome him at Government House in Sydney that ‘the need to protect the environment’ was of paramount importance. The following day, addressing a crowd of more than 250,000 young people who had gathered for World Youth Day 2008, he spoke about the feeling of awe for God’s creation which he experienced during his long plane journey from Rome to Sydney. ‘The views afforded of our planet from the air were truly wondrous. The sparkle of the Mediterranean, the grandeur of the north African desert, the lushness of Asia’s forests, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the horizon upon which the sun rose and set, and the majestic splendor of Australia’s natural beauty . . . It is as though one catches glimpses of the Genesis creation story – light and darkness, the sun and the moon, the waters, the earth, and living creatures; all of which are “good” in God’s eyes, Immersed in such beauty, who could not echo the words of the Psalmist in praise of the Creator, “how majestic is your name in all the earth”’. 

It was against this background that he delivered his message about environmental destruction. ‘Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of the earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption’. He went on to challenge the young pilgrims: ‘the concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity’.

Ethics And Climate Change

By Fr Seán McDonagh

The author, a Columban, came to the Philippines in 1969 and spent many years in Mindanao, including a long period with the T’bolis. He is now based in Ireland and has written a number of acclaimed books on environmental issues. The Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), the qualifications awarding body for third-level educational and training institutions outside the university sector in Ireland, awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy to Father McDonagh on the basis of his published work. His latest book, Climate Change: the Challenge to All of Us, was published by The Columba Press, <>, Ireland, last year.

World Environment Day

By Father Sean McDonagh SSC

Fr Sean McDonagh, a Columban missionary priest who spent over 20 years working in the Philippines, reflects on the fact that few allude to the teachings of the late Pope John Paul II on the environment. The author, based in Ireland, has written extensively on ecology and religion. His latest book is The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction, (Columba 2004). Claretian Communications , have published a number of his books.

A Background To Patenting Of Life

By Sean McDonagh SSC

Patents give an exclusive right to an inventor to make or sell an invention for about 20 years. To be patentable an invention must be novel, inventive and serve some useful purpose. Patents have been around since the fifteenth century but until 22 years ago these criteria excluded living organisms. These were always regarded as discoveries of nature, and therefore unpatentable.

Time To Turn Down The Heat

By Fr. Sean McDonagh mssc

If asked to list the problems that need urgent attention in the world today few people would name global warming. One of those who did, back in 1990, was Pope John II when he warned that the “greenhouse effect” had reached crisis proportions. This is not a solitary or alarmist voice. Other people, especially scientists, are also extremely worried abut the long-term effect of global warming on the planet and the peoples of the earth. In the run up to the Climate Conference held in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 more than 1,500 of the world’s most distinguished scientists signed a declaration urging leaders to act immediately to prevent the “potentially devastating consequence of global warming.”

While life would not be possible without a warm atmosphere the appropriate temperature balance is a delicate one. The present problem has its roots in the huge increase in the burning of fossil fuel which began with the industrial revolution in the second half of the last century. The multiplication of industries meant the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. (These are gases which produce an effect somewhat similar to that of glass in the greenhouse, Ed.) Scientists estimate that the levels of carbon dioxide, one of the most important greenhouse gases, has increased by 255 since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Unless drastic action is taken a further 30% increase is expected in the next 50 years. This could lead to an average increase of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees celsius in global temperatures by the year 2030.