Friday, February 18, 2011

The difficult step from the Technozoic to the Ecozoic era

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Major crises involve major decisions. There are decisions that mean life or death for certain societies, institutions or individuals. The current situation is that of a patient to whom the doctor says: "Either you control your high cholesterol levels and your blood pressure, or you will have to face the worst. You choose."

The human race as a whole has a fever and is ill. It must decide whether to continue with its delusional rate of production and consumption, always guaranteeing national and global GDP growth at a rate that is highly hostile to life, or deal shortly with the reactions of the Earth-system that has shown clear signs of global stress. We don't fear a nuclear cataclysm -- not impossible, but unlikely -- that would mean the end of the human species. We are wary, yes, as many scientists warn, of a sudden, abrupt and drastic climate change that would quickly decimate many species and would seriously threaten our civilization.

This is not a sinister fantasy. The IPCC report of 2001 already indicated this eventuality. The report of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2002 stated: "Recent scientific evidence shows that major and widespread climate changes have occurred with startling speed...The new paradigm of an abruptly changing climatic system has been well established by research over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and scarcely appreciated [by social analysts]." Richard Alley, president of U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on Abrupt Climate Change found with his group that, when emerging from the last ice age 11,000 years ago, the Earth's climate rose 9 degrees in just 10 years (data from R.W. Miller, Global Climate Disruption Social Justice, N.Y., 2010). If that were to happen to us, we would have to deal with an environmental and social catastrophe of dramatic consequences.

What is at stake in the climate issue? At stake are two practices in relation to the Earth and its limited resources, that found two eras of our history: the Technozoic one and the Ecozoic one.

In the Technozoic one, a powerful instrument is being used, one invented in the last centuries, technoscience, with which all resources are exploited in a systematic and ever more rapid way, especially for the benefit of the world minorities, leaving much of humankind on the margin. Virtually the entire Earth has been occupied and exploited. It has become saturated with toxins, chemicals and greenhouse gases to the point of losing its ability to metabolize them. The clearest symptom of this inability is the fever that has been present on Earth.

In the Ecozoic one, Earth is considered within the evolutionary process. For more than 13.7 billion years, the universe has existed and is expanding, driven by the unfathomable background energy and the four interactions that support and nourish each thing. It's a unitary, diverse, and complex process that produced the red stars, the galaxies, our Sun, the planets and our Earth. It also generated the first living cells, multicellular organisms, the proliferation of fauna and flora, human self-consciousness through which we feel part of the Whole and responsible for the Planet. All this process envelops the Earth up to now. Respected in its dynamic, it allows the Earth to maintain its vitality and balance.

The future is being played out between those who are committed to the Technozoic era with the risks involved and those who, assuming the Ecozoic one, struggle to maintain the rhythms of the Earth, produce and consume within its limits and put their main interest in self-perpetuation and in human welfare and the earthly community.

If we don't take this step, it will be hard to escape the abyss that lies ahead of us.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Via Crucis: Some Social Justice Stations of the Cross

One of the viewers came to this blog via doing a search for the Oscar Romero Via Crucis and it reminded me that we are getting to that time of year when liturgists and religious educators are looking for Stations of the Cross they can use in their parishes and communities. As a public service, we would like to supply some links to Stations of the Cross that we appreciate for their social content and authorship. And if you don't see one you like, Education for Justice has a pamphlet that tells you how to Create Your Own Justice Stations of the Cross.

  • The Way of the Cross with Oscar Romero -- This simple PDF lists the Bible citations for each Station followed by a reflection from martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. It has been made available by Education for Justice.
  • Stations of the Cross: Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery -- Pope Francis has said that "human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that's become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society." This Via Crucis reflects on the problem of trafficking and is available from the Religious Sisters of Charity.
  • Via Crucis Latinoamericano -- These Via Crucis reflections in Spanish are by Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. They are illustrated with his artwork. They were commissioned in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Latin America and each Station is a reflection on a social problem that plagues the continent today -- human rights, civil war, human suffering in the marginal barrios, landless peasants, the special problems of original peoples and ethnic minorities, etc...
  • Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love -- These Stations were written by one of Pax Christi USA's founders, Melkite Greek Catholic priest Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy. They are made available by the Center for Christian Nonviolence. Rev. McCarthy is also known for his pivotal role in the canonization of Edith Stein.
  • Via Crucis por la Justicia para los Inmigrantes / Way of the Cross for Justice for Immigrants -- A bilingual (English/Spanish) Stations of the Cross written in 2007 by Rev. Michael J. Boehm of Priests for Justice for Immigrants of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Unfortunately his reflections on the plight of our immigrant brothers and sisters are just as true today in 2011.
  • Vía Crucis del Migrante -- A Via Crucis in Spanish developed from the joint pastoral letter of the Mexican and United States Catholic Bishops, "Juntos en el Camino de la Esperanza, ya no somos Extranjeros" ("Together on the road of hope, we are not strangers now").
  • Jesuit Refugee Services USA Way of the Cross -- This pamphlet, illustrated with color photos, highlights the plight of refugees from many different parts of the world today, following each biblical citation for each station.
  • The Way of the Cross for Economic and Ecological Justice -- This Way of the Cross was developed by the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns to be used in conjunction with a literal Way of the Cross around downtown Washington, DC that stops at sites symbolic of the different stations but it can be used anywhere to reflect on our complicity with the crucifixion of the poor through economic injustice and environmental degradation.
  • Lament for Racial Justice -- Although it says "Lenten Prayer Service", this is in fact a Via Crucis developed in 2012 by members of the Anti-Racism Implementation Team of the Archdiocese of Chicago, around the theme of racism and prejudice.
  • The Way of the Cross: A Reflection on Christ's Death and Resurrection -- This Via Crucis from Franciscans International contains reflections on the major social problems affecting the world today including poverty, the death penalty, economic injustice, ethnic strife, abuse of women and children, etc...
  • Companions on the Way of the Cross -- This Way of the Cross, written by John Donaghy, a lay missioner serving in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan in Honduras, highlights different individuals who have followed the sacrificial way of Jesus, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mons. Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others.

  • Peace Stations of the Cross -- Education for Justice, a project of the Center of Concern, has published this Via Crucis which is an abridged version of Stations of the Cross by Megan McKenna, published by Pax Christi, USA.
  • Eco Stations of the Cross -- a Via Crucis on environmental issues by Barb Born, March 2011, MS Word file

  • The Stations of Justice -- by Michael J. Nicosia, M.Div. This Via Crucis meditates on the radicality of how Jesus acted in the society of His time, MS Word file

  • Stations of the Cross for Today -- This booklet from the Felician Franciscan Sisters focuses primarily on issues of economic justice and includes excerpts from key documents on Catholic social teachings.

We should also point out that Sr. Joan Chittester, OSB has written a new book of reflections, The Way of the Cross: the Path to New Life (Orbis, 2013). The book is magnificently illustrated by Janet McKenzie.

Updated 2/9/2016

Photo: "Jesus is Condemned to Death" by Adolfo Perez Esquivel