Concern for the Earth is Incarnational, Not Paganistic
It is a typical accusation made by some on the internet that modern concern for the earth and its environment is paganism. I do not understand how any Catholic can hold this position, when leaders of the Church, including Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II have said we need to be good stewards of the earth and take care of it. Thinking it is a good to be taken care of does not make it an idol. If it did, what does that make of God? ”God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:10).
The concern for “paganism” and fear of “paganism” doesn’t look like a Catholic concern, but a Protestant one (and not one of all Protestants, but fundamentalists). Catholics have a long tradition of looking to pagans and learning from them, and not discounting their views just because they are pagan. Isn’t this a reason why many Protestants criticize Catholics? Isn’t it the claim that we are really pagans?
The question shouldn’t be “is this pagan?” Even if it were, it would not necessarily mean it is exclusively pagan, nor that it is a bad practice. The question should be whether or not the concern is a valid Christian concern. Care of the earth certainly is. God has made it our responsibility (Gen 1:26 -28). Creation is good; we are given rule over it in order to preserve that goodness.
And for the Christian, it really isn’t paganism at all which has led to our concern for the earth; rather, it is the incarnation. God became man and took on the matter of the earth, not just to save humanity, but to save all creation. He has given us the task to continue his work while we are here on this earth. (Rom 8:22-25). It is the denial of this which is the problem, for that denial implies an underlying Gnosticism.