The half-finished cupWhen we got married, my wife and I set aside part of the cup of wine traditional in a Jewish service, to be finished when marriage was available to everyone. Days before our wedding, Judge Vaughn Walker had struck down marriage segregation in California, but that decision was on hold until last year, when the Supreme Court sustained his ruling.

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In his recent encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis argued the necessity of taking the long view in thinking about environmental ethics. I discussed the encyclical’s argument in part 1, and compared it to Aldo Leopold’s famous “The Land Ethic” in part 2.

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The encyclical Laudato si’ lays out what I called Pope Francis’s land ethic, back in part 1. I use that term because, from its earliest pages, I felt strong parallels between the environmental ethic advanced on behalf of the Catholic Church and the writings of pioneering American conservation biologist Aldo Leopold. Compare this passage from Laudato si’:

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Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

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