Thomas Berry

American priest

Thomas Berry (November 9, 1914June 1, 2009) was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian – or “Earth scholar” – were his preferred descriptors). Among advocates of "ecospirituality" and the "New Story," he is famous for proposing the idea that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species. He is considered a leader in the tradition of Teilhard de Chardin.

Thomas Berry


  • Vegetarianism is a way of life that we should all move toward for economic survival, physical well-being and spiritual integrity.

Evening Thoughts

Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community, edited by ‎Mary Evelyn Tucker (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 2006)
  • We … wish especially to outline the conditions for entering a future that will lead to the larger fulfillment for which the entire planet, as well as ourselves, seems to be destined. The first condition for achieving this objective is to realize that the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.
    • Chapter 1, p. 17
  • Even with all our technological accomplishments and urban sophistication, we consider ourselves blessed, healed in some manner, forgiven, and for a moment transported into some other world, when we catch a passing glimpse of an animal in the wild: a deer in some woodland, a fox crossing a field, a butterfly in its dancing flight southward to its wintering region, a hawk soaring in the distant sky, a hummingbird come into our garden, fireflies signaling to each other in the evening. So we might describe the thousandfold moments when we experience our meetings with the animals in their unrestrained and undomesticated status. Such incidents as these remind us that the universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not of objects to be exploited.
    • Chapter 3, pp. 37-38
  • Our relation with the animals finds its expression especially in the amazing variety of benefits they provide for us in their guidance, protection, and companionship. Beyond these modes of assistance, they provide a world of wonder and meaning for the mind—beauty for the imagination. Even beyond all these, they provide an emotional intimacy that is unique, that can come to us from no other source. The animals can do for us, both physically and spiritually, what we cannot do for ourselves or for each other. These more precious gifts they provide through their presence and their responsiveness to our inner needs.
    • Chapter 3, p. 39
  • The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not primarily of objects to be used. As a subject, each component of the universe is capable of having rights.
    • Appendix 2, p. 149
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