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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Catholicism and other branches of Christianity rarely reflected on earth in se for almost two millennia. Earth was viewed ordinarily as the setting for human existence, the stage on which human protagonists worked toward their salvation in a better world to come. Periodically, some individuals within Christianity (such as Francis of Assisi) became known for their appreciation of pristine nature and their attitude toward nonhuman species. This article examines the development of Catholic thought in three stages: caring for the common good, concern for creation in crisis, and creation concern and community commitment. It discusses issues of water ownership, water use, and water purity as a summary focal point for analyzing church teachings on environment, ecology, and economics. Elements of the teachings of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have been particularly influential in Catholic doctrines regarding creation and the goods of creation. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the first papal social encyclical, Rerum novarum (“On the Condition of Labor”). The major catalyst for the encyclical's development was probably the work of a New York City priest, Edward McGlynn.

Keywords: Catholicism, Francis of Assisi, common good, creation, water use, environment, ecology, economics, Edward McGlynn, Pope Leo XIII

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