There's a young man in my congregation--let's call him
"Michael"--who's trying to turn his life around. He's been in and out of
detention centers and prisons since he was 13. Over and over again, he was
caught stealing cars, smoking pot, breaking and entering; you name it, he's
done it. But now he's trying to change, to turn around.
Walk through most people's houses, and you'll quickly get a sense of what they love. The art on the walls, the books on the shelves, the kitchen gadgets, photographs, knickknacks and pets, the size and number of TVs—all reveal where the occupants' hearts lie.
Theories of change vary widely. Does progress arise from
countless participants, working in countless places and ways? Does it require
an organized movement? How critical are public, influential leaders? At what
point is there a need for precedent to be set from the top down?
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of “clean coal.” A spokesperson admitted that the Wheeling-Charleston diocese has “energy related investments” (National Catholic Reporter, July 1).