Catholic Leaders Denounce Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

Here are some highlights of the responses from Catholic leaders who share the Church’s commitment to care for creation to President Trump’s decision to withdraw US participation from the Paris Agreement:

Cardinal Sean O’Malley wrote:

Laudato si’, is a message that invites all people of goodwill to reflect on our responsibility to care for our common home. We share the Holy Father’s concerns of the connection between care for creation and care for the poor— it is often those who are poor who suffer the most because of the neglect of the environment. We hope that the administration will reconsider this action because the leadership of the United States is crucial in this very important area.

A number of Catholic leaders signed a statement released by the Catholic Climate Covenant:

We, the member organizations of Catholic Climate Covenant, are deeply disappointed by President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement and stop all future payments tot he Green Climate Fund. We implore him to reconsider. The international agreement of 2015 demonstrates that all nations will be impacted by a warming world and that all nations have a corresponding responsibility to limit greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change.

Climate change is already harming vulnerable people throughout the U.S. and around the world. American citizens in Louisiana and Alaska are being displaced by rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers and thermal expansion. Across the globe, families in Zimbabwe are being devastated by crushing drought amidst some of the hottest years on record. Globally, the World Health Organization warns that “between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.” Both at home and abroad, climate change unjustly and disproportionately harms poor and marginalized people who contribute least to the problem.

Catholic teaching insists that climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitments: to protect human life, health, dignity, and security; to exercise a preferential option for the poor; to promote the common good of which the climate is part; to live in solidarity with future generations; to realize peace; and to care for God’s good gift of creation. These arguments have been made by Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, bishops from every continent and, most recently, Pope Francis.

The US Bishops responded:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

Catholic Relief Services expressed their disappointment:

The Paris Agreement calls on the 195 participating countries to set voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which are a key factor in driving global climate change.  If the world does not set a path to reduce emissions, then drought, floods, and severe storms will pose a disproportionate threat to poor people in poor countries.

“In the countries where we work, climate change is not some distant threat. The impact is now and every day,” O’Keefe said. In Bangladesh, rising sea levels are encroaching on water tables and swallowing coastal homes.  In Central America, coffee farmers are losing their crops due to more frequent drought and because warmer temperatures help pests thrive.

“It’s the poor who are suffering, and are forced to migrate elsewhere to make a living.  Real consequences are happening now, and have contributed to current global crises CRS and the United States are responding to.”…

O’Keefe continued, “Withdrawing from the Paris Accord is a terrible and we hope reversible mistake; American leadership is absolutely necessary on this critical global issue and we hope the President’s message of working towards rejoining the agreement and addressing climate change is a sincere one.  We believe that we can both grow our economy and respond to the Holy Father’s call to care for creation.”

Franciscan Action Network condemned the decision:

The announcement by President Trump to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is a decision with catastrophic consequences for the earth and all of its living creatures. In addition to the devastating environmental repercussions, pulling out of the agreement before the designated time allowed to do so sets a dangerous precedent by demonstrating that this administration has no regard for standing international agreements.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement wrote:

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a backward and immoral action.  Catholics are saddened and outraged that Trump is not listening to Pope Francis after their meeting last week.  Still, the world will continue to accelerate climate action, despite the White House’s retrograde stance.

As people of faith, we will continue to take action within our Church, and urge elected leaders in the United States and around the world to make the changes needed to hold global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Trump’s decision only strengthens our resolve to mobilize the global family of 1.2 billion Catholics to reduce emissions, pressure society to change, and spread the Pope’s message of Laudato Si in order to protect our common home.

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach stated:

Withdrawal from this crucial agreement directly jeopardises the health and sustainability of our common home, including vulnerable communities both at home and abroad.

Climate change is an unprecedented phenomenon in recent human history, affecting every aspect of life. The magnitude, severity, and urgency of climate change are difficult to fathom. Our response to the crisis of climate change must be prophetic, both for the well-being of the vulnerable and of the planet. Withdrawal from the agreement undercuts our positive relationship with the rest of the world, jeopardising cooperation on many global efforts and weakening our response as one global family united in our efforts to respond to the destruction of climate change.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network wrote:

Today, the United States took a step backward in responding to the reality of climate change facing all countries and people across the globe.

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis invited all people of goodwill to “care for our common home,” which includes our brothers and sisters across the world who are most marginalized by the effects of climate change. The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change greatly weakens the United States’ ability to be a global leader in responding to the call of Laudato Si’ and demonstrates a lack of concern for those who will be most impacted by climate change — the poor and vulnerable.

The Sisters of Mercy denounced the withdrawal:

As the Trump Administration has clearly abdicated responsibility on this critical issue, we call upon members of Congress to take leadership in reducing carbon emissions, moving the U.S. into a renewable energy economy with the rest of the world, and ensuring a just transition for workers.

William Patenaude, a Catholic ecologist, told CNA:

Catholics should know that the effects of climate change are already being felt in the U.S., said one Catholic ecologist after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of an international climate agreement.

Communities in the U.S. are already “dealing with climate change now,” said William Patenaude, a Catholic ecologist, 28-year employee of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management, and author at CatholicEcology.net.

“For lots of us, this is not theoretical. This is reality,” he added of climate change.

Michael Sean Winters wrote:

The power of the presidency is awesome, but it is not total. And those Catholic Republicans who hold office in Washington need to be asked whether they stand with the pope and the world’s scientific community or with the president and his conspiracy theories.

The decision came after Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida encouraged the administration to honor the Paris Agreement:

The power of the Paris Agreement lies in the fact that it expresses a universal and united political desire to work together. As an icon of international solidarity, the importance of the agreement transcends climate change itself. The Paris agreement is a modern symbol of global solidarity and unity towards the common good.

By withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the United States would send the message that it doesn’t care about the common good of all peoples and it has no appetite for solidarity. Furthermore, it would miss the opportunity to shape the future of the global energy revolution.