New Statement on Christian Ethics and the Ecological Emergency

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Dozens of Christian ethicists, including Millennial writers Marcus Mescher and Dan DiLeo, have signed a new statement on “Christian Ethics and the Ecological Emergency.” The statement begins:

Human activity is now driving a complex, dynamic process of environmental destabilisation across the whole of God’s Earth, at a scale and pace unprecedented in human history. This is already disrupting important ecosystems and human socioeconomic activity, creating multiple risks that we need to manage, adapt to and mitigate. We face an ecological emergency that imperils our security and the social structures foundational for human happiness, peace and freedom. To rise to this challenge, we will need to substantially reconstruct and modernise our economy within the next decade. To do this we must inspire and exercise leadership, mobilise resources and pledge action at every level.

The ethicists pledge the following:

  • As Christian individuals and families, we pledge to learn about, acknowledge and repent of choices—in our shopping, eating and recreation, whether at our homes or in our travel—that contribute to pollution and ecological destruction, and we resolve to take significant steps towards lifestyles that are sustainable and aligned with our Christian calling.
  • As Christian churches and communities, we pledge to help give voice to the grief we must bear over the destruction caused by our actions and our inaction over many years—including within our church life, and we resolve to imagine how we might practice fellowship, ownership, and renewal in ways that better reflect our commitment to Christian compassion and stewardship, so that our church models best practices for creation care within our community.
  • As Christians in our workplaces and businesses, we pledge to consider the ecological impact of our economic activity, and we resolve to cooperate with all those linked in our work to plan a transition towards pollution free and sustainable working practices.
  • As Christian citizens, we pledge to engage with and encourage our leaders and representatives, from local to national government, and we resolve to support measures that reduce ecological harm and promote transition towards an economy and society that offers a sustainable future.
  • As members of a worldwide church family, we pledge not only to pray for but also to partner with vulnerable communities threatened by ecological breakdown and extreme weather disasters, and we resolve to support projects in partner communities that build resilience, promote long term security, and conserve and protect natural habitat and biodiversity.
  • As Christians, we pledge to live our values as citizens of God’s new society, which Jesus inaugurated, sustains through the Holy Spirit and promised to bring to fulfilment. And we resolve to bring hope and love to our neighbours around the globe as we celebrate, protect and care for the Earth, our common home, and joyfully join in creation’s praise.

You can see all the signatories and read the full statement here.

Pope Francis on Development that Responds to the Cry of the Earth and Poor

via the Vatican:

When we speak of development we must always ask: Development of what? Development for whom? For too long the conventional idea of development has been almost entirely limited to economic growth. Indicators of national development have been based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indices. This has led the modern economic system down a dangerous path where progress is assessed only in terms of material growth, on account of which we are almost obliged to irrationally exploit the environment and our fellow human beings.

As my predecessor Saint Paul VI rightly highlighted, to speak about human development means referring to all people – not just a few – and to the whole person – not just the material dimension (cf. Populorum Progressio, 14). Any fruitful discussion of development, therefore, should offer viable models of social integration and ecological conversion, because we cannot develop ourselves as human beings by fomenting increased inequality and degradation of the environment….

Dear brothers and sisters, today, after three and a half years since the adoption of the sustainable development goals, we must be even more acutely aware of the importance of accelerating and adapting our actions in responding adequately to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (cf. Laudato Si’, 49) – they are connected.


Cardinal Seán: Respect, Inclusion, Solidarity Must Overcome Ideology of Hate Behind NZ Attack

via Cardinal Seán O’Malley:

To our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand who are suffering from today’s murderous attacks on innocent people of faith and goodwill during their time of prayer, we stand with you in condemning this horrendous assault on human dignity. We lift up our hearts in earnest prayer to God on behalf of those who perished in this massacre and those who have been wounded in body or in spirit.

The ideology of hate and the violence that is all too often an outcome of such invective causes untold suffering and pain, but it must never be allowed to defeat our efforts to work together for the betterment of all people throughout the world. To our Muslim friends in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, in this dark hour know that you are not alone, we join together with many others in the religious and civic communities who embrace you in concern and support. May the souls of those who perished in the attack be received by the most merciful God and may we be vigilant and unfailing in our commitment to never succumb to hate but always uphold the power of respect, inclusion and solidarity.

Michael Wear on Political Homelessness

In a talk for Q Ideas, Michael Wear discusses Christianity and politics, making a number of points, including:

  • Christians should go to politics to advance justice and affirm dignity.
  • We take politics seriously in all the wrong ways. It’s not meant to meet our spiritual and emotional needs.
  • We are called to work for the flourishing of all people.
  • Politics is an essential forum in which we can love our neighbor.
  • We cannot succumb to cynicism.

You can watch the full talk here:

California Gov. Newsom Announces Moratorium on the Death Penalty, Whole Life Advocates Praise Move

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via the Sacramento Bee:

When Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday putting a moratorium on the death penalty in California, he called it the culmination of a personal, 40-year journey….

Saying the death penalty is “ineffective, irreversible and immoral,” Newsom granted reprieves to all 737 Californians awaiting executions – sparing the lives of a quarter of the country’s death row inmates as long as he is governor.

He said the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color, has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.

Sister Helen Prejean writes:

Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a moratorium on executions in California is truly good news—for the 737 souls on the country’s largest death row, and for all who care about human rights. Gov. Newsom is also using his full executive power to deal two other blows to California’s machinery of death: he has ordered the execution chamber at San Quentin to be torn down, and he is withdrawing the state’s lethal injection protocol.

via Catholic Mobilizing Network:

“Today’s declaration is a bold step toward abolishing a broken system that fails to protect the inviolable dignity of the human person,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. “It reaffirms that every life is sacred and has God-given value.”

Archbishop José H. Gomez writes:

For many years now, my brother Catholic bishops and I have been calling for an end to the death penalty, not only in California but throughout the United States. So this is a good day for California and a good day for our country.

There are important public policy reasons for ending the death penalty.

It does not deter violent crime and it does not bring true justice or healing to victims of violent crime. And sadly, judicial execution has always been a punishment imposed far more often on African Americans, Hispanics and the poor in our society.

But the most important reasons for ending the death penalty are moral.

We Must Vigilant in the Fight against Antisemitism

In a recent speech, Pope Francis said:

At present, however, a source of great concern to me is the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root. I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries. Today I also wish to reiterate that it is necessary to be vigilant about such a phenomenon: “History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated” (Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, 47). I stress that for a Christian any form of antisemitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction….

In the fight against hatred and antisemitism, an important tool is interreligious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom, and the care of creation. Jews and Christians, moreover, share a rich spiritual heritage, which allows us to do much good together. At a time when the West is exposed to a depersonalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference….

In a world where the distance between the many who have little and the few who have much grows every day, we are called to take care of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the weak, the sick, children, and the elderly.

In serving humanity, as in our dialogue, young people are waiting to be involved more fully; they want to dream and are open to discovering new ideals. I want to emphasize, therefore, the importance of the formation of future generations in Jewish-Christian dialogue. The shared commitment in the area of educating the young is also an effective means of countering violence and opening new paths of peace with all.

EJ Dionne writes:

Bigotry is bigotry. It must always be opposed.

This is why the dangerously careless use of language by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about Jews and Israel — she spoke of people who “push for allegiance to a foreign country” — has been cause for both heartbreak and anger.

I get that some readers will see my use of the word “careless” as too soft because the dual-loyalty charge has historically been so poisonous. But in refraining from stronger language I’m putting my bet on hope….

Anti-Semitism is utterly antithetical to anything that deserves to be called liberal or progressive. Surely Omar doesn’t want the Democrats ensnared in the sort of left-wing anti-Semitism now haunting the British Labour Party.

Opposing anti-Semitism should be axiomatic for everyone….

Thus, my sympathies have always been with the beleaguered peace camps on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This has led to deep frustration with Palestinian rejectionists, but also with the politics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu….

So, yes, I know full well that you can love Israel, be critical of its current government and truly despise anti-Semitism, all at the same time. What you cannot do is play fast and loose with language that cannot help but be seen as anti-Semitic. I pray Omar now realizes this. At this moment, opponents of bigotry must be able to rely on each other.

MSW on why “The cancer of anti-Semitism must be excised from the Left”:

There was a time in the not so distant past when trafficking in one of the classic memes of anti-Semitism was considered beneath contempt, the kind of thing that garnered universal condemnation. Apparently, the House Democratic caucus is no longer such a place. They watered down a resolution against anti-Semitism rather than take a forceful stand against this most malignant of cultural cancers.

The fracas within the Democratic caucus was ignited by a comment made by Rep. Ilhan Omar: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The allegation is twofold: that American Jews exhibit a dual loyalty, “political allegiance” to Israel, and that their influence is a sinister one.

Perhaps some people are not aware of the long history of the charge of dual loyalty. Before the founding of the state of Israel, the idea was that Jews were not loyal to the country where they lived, that they were indelibly “other,” that they lacked the pristine blood of, say, a full-blooded Spaniard. That last iteration of the charge dates back to the Inquisition in Spain. Jews were portrayed at different times and in different ways as selfish, caring only about themselves, or about money.

Whatever the differences of the portrayals, anti-Semitism manifested itself in virtually every European country and, indeed, it is older than most countries….

I can understand people’s frustration with having to call out Congresswoman Omar when we have a racist bigot in the White House. As ugly as her comment was, it was no worse than Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments about “both sides” having “good people” when one side had marched through the streets chanting “The Jews will not replace us.” Good people do not do that. Let us stipulate that the Republicans and Fox News are hypocrites. Is anyone surprised?…

Last week, I wrote about the fact that President Trump and the Republicans who enable him are defining deviancy down. All those Democrats who insisted that the original resolution denouncing anti-Semitism be watered down did the same last week. When someone burglarizes your house, it is all well and good to denounce burglary, but you want the man who did it caught. The cancer of anti-Semitism will continue to grow on the Left unless it is excised. The sooner the surgery, the more likely the Left will achieve a full recovery. If history is any judge, the cancer will spread. It is too horrible to contemplate.

Nichole Flores on Lent and Ella Baker

Millennial writer Nichole Flores to UVA Today:

I think the beginning of Lent comes at an advantageous time for the church this year, on the heels of the Vatican Summit on the protection of minors. It is a time, built within the liturgical calendar, for lament, confession and acknowledgement of sin and the suffering caused by our sin. I think it is appropriate for Catholics in the pews to particularly embrace that practice this year.

I also hope church leaders will use it as an opportunity to remember the real heart of the church, to repent and hopefully to reconcile with their members and the larger world, both of which have understandably lost a degree of trust in the institution.

In addition, she shared her research and reflections on Ella Baker, a civil rights activist and organizer whose work in the civil rights movement focused on empowering the poor and the young, on Can I Get a Witness? The Podcast. You can listen to the podcast here.