Should Catholics Be Environmentalists?
Here is an excellent article by Ronald J. Rychlak, professor of law and associate dean at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is the author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope (2000) and Righteous Gentiles (2005). It is taken from Catholic Culture.
Professor Rychlak shows how popes have been teaching about the importacne of our caring for the earth, not only for ourselves but for future generations, since Pope Leo XIII's landmark encyclical on social justice, Rerum Novarum, in 1891. He begins thus:
After the Vatican recently hosted several international conferences on the environment and environmental problems, headlines reported that the Catholic Church is finally jumping on the environmental bandwagon. They were wrong on two counts. First, Catholic teaching has long been that care for the earth is both a duty that we owe to God and a reflection of our respect for each other. So, the Church isn't some Johnny-come-lately to protecting the planet. Second, the Church's understanding of what it means to be a good steward is not precisely in line with the thinking of many modern environmentalists.
You may read the whole article here.