Walter E. Grazer sees the continuing story of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a conversation starter, a way to talk about "our response to God and what do we do to take care of what he created."
Grazer spent about 15 years as director of the Environmental Justice Program for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is now a consultant for the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He took time to talk about his book, Catholics Going Green, simple changes anyone can make and how being a good steward of the Earth is part of a spiritual journey.
Question: What chapters of the Bible most speak to environmental issues?
Answer: It's all over Scripture. The main ones would be Genesis, with the creation of the world and the command to care for it.
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There are a number of Psalms that resonate beautifully with the wonder of creation and, therefore, the wonder of God. And in the prophetic books there's a whole question of justice for the land.
And Christ himself — Jesus considered himself the Good Shepherd.
Q: The "carbon footprint" movement seems like it allows people to make bad choices and then make up for them with cash donations. What do you think of this?
A: It's nice to be aware of the carbon footprint and know that it has an impact ... in Third World countries, but you have to know you can't buy your way out of bad environmental choices. You can't make a donation without changing your lifestyle or reducing your carbon footprint.
Q: In your book you mention that people can use environmental connections for evangelizing. Can you explain?
A: Talking about the environment can be an occasion to lift up moral and religious themes. Meetings can be a place to talk with people and spread the good news about God and faith.