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Benedictines listen to the Earth

January 15 2007:

"Benedictines have long known themselves to be stewards of the earth. Now more than ever, the earth is calling to us. Are we listening?"

The Benedictine sisters of Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force in Pennsylvania have published an environmental handbook for rural and urban Benedictine communities in Latin America. The handbook - which is available in three languages - was produced with the editorial assistance and guidance of ARC, and the financial assistance of the World Bank. The project took three years. Link here for the personal story of its writer and editor Bill Bartlett, who describes why the book was written, how it changed in its three years of conception, and some of the challenges he faced.

The handbook - titled Listening to the Earth in English, Ouvindo o Planeta Terra in Portuguese and Escuchar a la Tierra in Spanish and available for free download on the internet is expected to be a valuable resource for many Benedictine communities around the world. It is hoped that other religious and secular communities take and adapt it to their own purposes.

Some of the questions asked in the audit:

*** To what extent does the community use song/hymns/readings/symbols during Community Care that call attention to Creation?

*** In its ministry of hospitality, to what extent does the community model the use of sustainable practices and promote these for guests?

*** Has the Community Leadership called for a self-review and auditing process on conservation issues and its renewal on a regular basis?

*** To what extent does the community encourage sustainable land use practices such as organic food production, pesticide/herbicide reduction, habitat protection, maintaining green zones and/or use of land for the poor?

The book follows these detailed questions with comprehensive chapters on air, pollution, drinking water, sanitation, energy - including plenty of cheap, effective solutions for low-income monasteries and their lay and surrounding communities.

It is also hoped that other religious and secular communities take and adapt it to their own purposes. ARC would be keen to know of any examples - please email us on if you and your community find it useful.

Link here for the World Bank coverage of the handbook
Link here to connect to the Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force website.
Link here to contact the sisters at the Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force.
Link here to learn about ARC's other projects with the World Bank.
Link here to read the preface in English
Link here to download the whole book in English.
Link here to download the whole book in Portuguese.
Link here to download the whole book in Spanish.

Please note that the handbooks are around 1.2MB in size.

To buy the book for £20, including postage and packing to the UK please contact Kevin Vicker ( at ARC. The book is cheaper if you represent a charity.

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