Watch

Mapping Catholic Lands to Save the Planet

Creator:
Published:
December 12, 2023
October 24, 2020
Goodlands|Goodlands-Square

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental landholder in the world. Molly is on a mission to map these lands so the Church can better use these lands to care for creation and help save the planet.

This year, the United Nations named Molly a Young Champion of the Earth.

"If we're going to address climate change sufficiently, then the Catholic Church is going to play a very significant role in that," she shares.

Video Transcript

Meet Molly: Land conservationist

Molly Burhans: My relationship with land personally is spiritual, it's scientific, it's artistic. I really find God in nature so easily.

Redlands, California

I'm the founder and executive director of GoodLands. We're helping mostly Catholic communities manage their property for environmental impact and for their own financial management.

Molly makes maps and data systems for the Catholic Church.

Okay, do you want to see something really cool? Check this out. This is biodiversity per diocese. So you can see the red ones are the most biodiverse with the most endangered species. The Catholic Church, as very likely the largest nongovernmental landholder in the world, really has a duty to use her lands.

Molly is trying to chart all Catholic-owned lands. It’s never been done.

Okay, so this map shows the hierarchical organization of the Church around the world. Those take an enormous amount of work. If you look at this map, anyone that lives in a diocese that's orange or red is facing a lot of challenges with a loss of growing days of a minimum of 20 per year, which can be completely disruptive to crop cycles. That's going to really drive migration, lack of food security, lack of viable land for farming, shifts in local climate. By 2020, if we do not cut emissions, we can see about 209 days that experience an amount of heat that is damaging to human health.

United Nations, New York: The United Nations named Molly a “young champion of the earth.”

It's interesting, yeah. I feel like the work I'm doing has to happen. It's kind of inevitable, if we're going to address climate change sufficiently, that the Catholic Church is going to play a very significant role in that. Yeah, I guess that really helps decrease the intimidation, because it just has to happen. I started it because I felt somebody else would be doing it, and I said, "Why not?"

New Haven, Connecticut

We're told to have courage, and having courage doesn't mean you're not afraid. I've pored through the data, and there's a lot of scary stuff out there. But, I'm still overwhelmed with hope. We will make it out the other side of this global crisis with a more loving and compassionate world.

One of the most exciting days so far on this journey has been during a papal audience when I had a chance to give Pope Francis a map of Catholics per diocese by percentage. It was the first time the pope ever saw a visualization of the flock that he herds all over the world. He's got the hardest job in the world, I think.

Just trying to even capture this glorious creation of God is something we could do for a lifetime, many lifetimes, you know? It's just, we're given this opportunity to steward the earth, to tend for the garden, and it's a magnificent opportunity.

With mapping and planning, you just want to express that beauty through the truths of science. And, it always falls a little bit short, and that's where I feel like art can come in.

Click here to read more of Molly's story.

Creators:
Grotto
Published:
December 12, 2023
October 24, 2020
On a related note...
Father's Day Gift Ideas That Go Above and Beyond

Father's Day Gift Ideas That Go Above and Beyond

Grotto

Moving to Chicago, I Needed a Place that Felt Like Home

Moving to Chicago, I Needed a Place that Felt Like Home

Javi Zubizarreta

Reconnecting with Nature Through an Alpaca Farm

Reconnecting with Nature Through an Alpaca Farm

Grotto

What I Found When I Committed to a Community

What I Found When I Committed to a Community

Migs Mignanelli

The Cannonball That Created a Saint — and Changed Catholicism

The Cannonball That Created a Saint — and Changed Catholicism

Mike Jordan Laskey

Mother Teresa's Timeless Call to Love

Mother Teresa's Timeless Call to Love

Grotto Shares

Keeping Dreamers Dreaming

Keeping Dreamers Dreaming

Grotto

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

'Street Nun' Formed a Community Through Canning

'Street Nun' Formed a Community Through Canning

Grotto

Finding Healing and Joy through Art

Finding Healing and Joy through Art

Grotto

8 Essentials for Setting Up Your Home Bar

8 Essentials for Setting Up Your Home Bar

Ken Hallenius

Grotto’s Travel Guide to Nashville

Grotto’s Travel Guide to Nashville

Andrew Mentock

Sturgill Simpson’s New Album Tells a Story Worth Slowing Down For

Sturgill Simpson’s New Album Tells a Story Worth Slowing Down For

Bond Warner Strong

Mother’s Day Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Mother’s Day Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

This Company Gives People a Second Chance at Life

This Company Gives People a Second Chance at Life

Grotto

What It’s Really Like to Give Away a Kidney

What It’s Really Like to Give Away a Kidney

Josh Noem

How Do You Find Friends After College?

How Do You Find Friends After College?

Grotto

This Young Climate Activist Seeks to Make a Better World

This Young Climate Activist Seeks to Make a Better World

Grotto

Not Now: A Grotto Short Film

Not Now: A Grotto Short Film

Grotto

A DIY Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens

A DIY Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens

Ben Wilson

newsletter

We’d love to be pals.

Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll meet you in your inbox each week.