American Bishops on Laudato Si

How are American bishops responding to the pope’s encyclical on care for our common home? Here are some of the best and most interesting responses:

Statement of Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Laudato Si: “The Holy Father has given us a powerful, careful, prayerful analysis of two great ideas. The first idea, ‘Our Common Home’, the phrase he uses to describe the environment; the ‘home’ for the human family is in severe danger and needs immediate protection and healing at the global, national and local levels of life. The second idea is that while the threatened state of the environment is a universal challenge affecting us all, those most in danger in the present and future are those already poor and vulnerable, within states and across the globe. This constant linkage throughout the encyclical of the dual need to respect and protect “Our Common Home” and the need to respect and protect the dignity and lives of the poor may be regarded as the distinctive characteristic of this powerful message of Pope Francis.”

Climate change is a moral issue by Bishops Stephen Blaire, Armando Xavier Ochoa, and Jaime Soto: “Of particular concern is that environmental degradation and climate change disproportionately burden ‘the least among us.’ Our children and seniors are most vulnerable to negative health impacts, and poor families are least able to afford additional medical and utility costs associated with this crisis. The Catholic perspective is that human and natural ecology go hand in hand. We are called to solidarity with the poor as well as stewardship of the Earth. Our deep regard for the dignity of every person commands us to cultivate a climate of life where each of God’s children thrive and join with creation in praising our Creator. This is the ‘integral ecology’ of which Pope Francis speaks.”

Border Bishops and Leaders of the New Hope Border Institute Thank Pope Francis by Bishops José Guadalupe Torres Campos, Mark J. Seitz, and Oscar Cantú: “God offers us light and strength as we seek to steward the common home which has been entrusted to us. Our youth have become sensitive to the breach that has opened up between humanity and nature. They reject the emptiness of consumerism, materialism, violence, and individualism that knocks tauntingly at the door of daily life. Their consciences challenge our families, parishes, schools and community organizations to seek reconciliation, with one another and with our planet.”

Candidates should show honesty, courage on climate change by Bishop Richard Pates: “An honest conversation acknowledges that humans are causing much of the recent climate change. NASA outlines how 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate change over the past century is likely the result of human activity. The dialogue we need is not about whether to act on climate change, but how to act.”

Examining Laudato Si’: Agenda for a Generation by Bishop Kevin J. Farrell: “There is no magic bullet. Through prayer and dialogue we must collectively work toward a comprehensive solution to save our God’s creation, our common home. Laudato Si’ is not a doomsday proclamation but it sets out an agenda for a generation.”

Bishop Blaire lauds pope’s call for climate action: “The future of our world is at stake. When you see the environmental degradation that has taken place in so many areas, you realize that we all have to work together to save our world, for now and for the future.”

Sacramento Bishop Soto defends pope’s call for climate change action: “The throwaway society is indicted by the Holy Father as a foolish culture of death that has made the markets the ultimate arbiters of the worth of people. We throw away things and we throw away people. He talks about overpopulation and said we can’t exclude people in order to make the world more comfortable. The problem is not too many people. There is too much waste as well as too much human potential wasted.”

‘Laudato Si’’ and California’s Water Crisis: Q&A with Bishop Michael Barber, S.J.: “People in my diocese, and in the other dioceses of California, should welcome the new encyclical, as we are feeling the effects of climate change sooner than most. Our actions in California regarding care for the earth affect the feeding of millions of people.”

Open Our Eyes, Lord: Views of ‘Laudato Si” from Three California Dioceses: “Bishop Barber likewise considers the encyclical ‘a great moment for the Catholic Church, the moral authority we still have.’ He marvels at the response the pope has received: ‘Look at how the whole world is receiving or reacting to the encyclical. Who else can speak to the whole world with a moral voice? You tell me; I don’t think there’s anybody out there….’”