After Devastating Hurricanes, Both Justice and Charity Are Needed

MSW writes:

There will be second collections in our churches. The Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services sprang into action. The federal government has promised aid, at least to those islands that fly the U.S. flag.

But, after such devastation, more than charity is needed and more than charity is warranted. There is a justice issue, as well as an eye, at the heart of these hurricanes.

Hurricanes strengthen when they hover over warm water. The warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane will get. This is not in doubt. Nor is there any doubt that the oceans are warming as a result of human activity. The crucible in which the Caribbean finds itself was only partly made by nature. Nature got a helping hand from the addiction of the wealthy countries of the North to fossil fuels.

We in the U.S. did not create the hurricane, but we have created the conditions to make hurricanes more frequent and more powerful. For this, we must pay.

The first payment is due to those affected by the hurricanes. Standard relief efforts will not suffice. We must rebuild the infrastructure of these islands, and build in such a way that it is less susceptible to damage from future storms….

Helping these islands convert from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources would also represent a second payment, to future generations. The Holy Father has warned us. The scientists have warned us. We are destroying our planet….

Additionally, we must help rebuild these islands by requiring that the international community, and the U.S. specifically, write down the debt that they owe.