Machu Picchu

Ecotheology and University Chaplaincy: Insights from the Peruvian Amazon

February 20, 2017

Rev. Greg McGonigle
University Chaplain, Tufts University

I applied to participate in the United Methodist Church GBHEM Ecotheology Travel Seminar to Peru in Fall 2016 because ecotheology is not an area that I had studied in depth before, but I know the profound importance of ecology to addressing the contemporary plight of our planet, and, as a university chaplain, I feel I have a responsibility to help our campus community address the spiritual and ethical aspects of today’s environmental crisis. This course helped me to learn some of the history of ecotheology, to consider key scriptural and theological resources for doing ecology, to engage with a major contemporary work of ecotheology—Pope Francis’ Laudato si’—and to deepen my own understanding of ecotheology by visiting with a community of theologians and spiritual leaders one of the most ecologically significant areas of the planet, the Peruvian Amazon… Pope Francis lifts up at least three main themes as a kind of framework for ecotheology, which our group experienced as part of our visit to Peru: an overall consciousness/theology that “everything is connected” and interdependent; a recognition that currently “the earth herself …is among the most abandoned and maltreated of the poor” and that the fate of the poor and the earth are intertwined; and that we are in need of “authentic social and moral progress” and a “cultural revolution” to address the “spiritual and educational challenge” we face.

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