I recently attended a conference on ecology at St Paul Seminary, Minnesota. As Zenit reported, the organizers were quite critical of the nouvelle theologie (associated with de Lubac, ressourcement, Communio and Second Spring) as in some way respnsible for holding back the Church's theological discussion of ecological and environmental issues. Readers of this forum might wish to debate that. Personally, I completely disagree, but a considered response will have to wait.
Extract from ZENIT report:
A conference this past weekend at the St. Paul Seminary, co-sponsored by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, explored why, at the very moment when the world was coming into a deeper consciousness about the importance of conserving and protecting the natural environment, the Church seemed to have abandoned the possibility of a distinctly Catholic environmental ethic. According to Christopher Thompson, dean of the St. Paul Seminary and organizer of the conference titled, "Renewing the Face of the Earth: The Church and the Order of Creation," there are two main reasons for the conspicuous absence of the Church from contemporary environmental debates.
The first is terminology. "We don't live merely in an "environment,'" said Thompson, noting the Church's reticence about using this language. "To speak of creation and the environment is to speak of two distinct modes; man lives in the center of a created cosmos."
The second is more theoretical. According to Thompson, "the stewardship of nature requires a philosophy of nature, that is, a metaphysic and philosophy of being that views creatures as dependent on God and located within a created order or cosmos. And that order has its own goodness, and its own natural ends.
"At the very moment in which created nature was emerging as a reality to be affirmed (albeit in distorted ways within secular circles), that same understanding of created nature was diminishing in philosophical and theological circles. [...] Without in any way diminishing the very real contributions of the nouvelle theologians, it is not unfair to say that one unintended consequence of these newer readings of Thomas was a hyper-critical sensitivity to overloading the natural order with too great a teleological significance.
"Thus, when the Church was said to be reading the 'signs of the times' and guiding this nascent movement, it was largely back-pedaling from the theological framework for adequately addressing these issues.
"As a result, many contemporary Catholic responses to environmental questions are either lack an appropriate theological and philosophical foundation or simply appropriate the language of secular environmentalism, which too often sees man as the enemy of creation, rather than its steward."
Many other notable philosophers and theologians including Dominican Father Charles Morerod, Janet Smith, Steven Long, Christopher Blum and Stratford Caldecott focused their papers on providing a firm intellectual foundation for a renewed Catholic response to questions of creation and stewardship. Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, literary historian Joseph Pearce, and Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society delivered the keynote addresses.