Bishop Stephen Blaire: The Moral Urgency of Climate Action

In the Morning Consult, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton writes:

The impacts of climate change are more than harmful: they’re unjust. The poor and vulnerable are disproportionately impacted by these realities despite being least responsible for causing climate change.

And so we are called to act. One way to begin to ease these burdens, to protect creation and to promote the common good, is for people of faith and goodwill to support policies that will reduce the carbon pollution driving climate change. A national standard on carbon pollution, like the Clean Power Plan, deserves our support. When fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan will prevent thousands of premature deaths, dramatically reduce asthma attacks in children, and produce climate and health benefits worth tens of billions of dollars.

The need for action is clear. Thirty Catholic organizations, including dioceses, national groups, universities, and religious orders, have joined with other faith leaders to file an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit saying just that. The brief emphasizes our moral obligation to act on climate change.

As a Catholic bishop committed to the protection of human life and dignity, the promotion of the common good, and the mitigation of climate change, it is my sincere hope that this court will swiftly uphold the legal merits of the Clean Power Plan.

You can read the full article here.

 


Pope Francis should win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

Millennial at NCR WeekIn the latest Millennial at Distinctly Catholic article, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

Critics of the Nobel Peace Prize often note its glaring omissions, perplexing choices, and selection of those with pasts that are checkered at best. But the award has gone to many extraordinary champions of human rights and genuine peace: Martin Luther King, Jr., Lech Wałęsa, Elie Wiesel, Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Liu Xiaobo, and Jody Williams are just a few of the many worthy recipients.

While Mother Teresa won the award in 1979, no pope has ever received the honor of being a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. That should change this year.

For his leadership in confronting climate change and the degradation of the environment, Pope Francis should win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He has had a transformative impact on the public’s consciousness of the grave threats facing creation, including the growing menace of climate change. He described these threats in stark terms, saying, “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”  And with this searing critique of the status quo, he has also offered a vision of a better future: sustainable development that is rooted in respect for creation and the dignity of the human person.

You can read the full post here.


Everyone Must Act Responsibly to Save Our World

Cardinal Peter Turkson recently gave a speech at The Future of the Corporation: From Best in the World to Best for the World. Here are some highlights of the speech:

  • Not only is there poverty and social exclusion in the midst of plenty; economic activity is also degrading the natural environment, even to the point of threatening future human life.
  • All decisions about the natural environment are ethical decisions.
  • Technology and commerce must be held to transcendental standards of the meaning of life and of the moral outlook. They must be defined by solidarity—both with all people alive today and with those not yet born—and be oriented toward the common good.
  • All human beings are affected, and everything in nature too, by climate change, misuse of natural resources, waste and pollution.
  • Everyone must act responsibly to save our world—from individuals recycling to enterprises reducing their ecological footprints to world leaders setting and enforcing ambitious carbon reduction targets.
  • Businesses contribute to the common good by producing goods that are truly good and services that truly serve.
  • This preoccupation with wants, often called “consumerism,” severs production and consumption from the common good and impedes the development of the person.
  • The production of goods and services must abide by truth instead of mere pleasure or utility.
  • New products and services—such as microenterprises, microcredit, social enterprises and impact investment—have played an important role insofar as they help the poor to address their own needs. These innovations will not only help people to lift themselves from extreme poverty but also spark their creativity and entrepreneurship and help launch a dynamic of inclusive development.
  • Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God.
  • Business must always subordinate profits to generating employment — affirming, as he put it, the priority of labor over capital.
  • The business objective of ‘good wealth’ focuses on generating sustainable wealth and distributing it justly.
  • The logic of competition promotes short-termism, which leads to financial failure and devastation of the environment.
  • The Holy Father is not anti-business; he decries an obsession with profit and the deification of the market. But when it comes to the challenges of sustainable development, he calls upon business to lead by harnessing its creativity to solve pressing human needs.
  • If business is to lead, then let’s deploy the finance, re-organization, and technology needed to decarbonize the global economy.
  • Caring for our common home requires, as Pope Francis says, not just an economic and technological revolution, but also a cultural spiritual revolution—a profoundly different way of approaching the relationship between people and the environment, a new way of ordering the global economy. And this in turn, places a great responsibility on the shoulders of business leaders and also popular leaders. But I am confident that you are up to the task!

 


The Climate Cardinal: Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez

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Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a key advisor to Pope Francis and chair of his Council of Cardinals, recently spoke at Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical: Protecting the Planet and the Poor, an event cosponsored by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Georgetown Law Center’s Environmental Law Program and Climate Change Center, and the Global Futures Initiative. He also sat down with journalists for an hour before the event to talk about Pope Francis, Laudato Si, and protecting creation. Here are a dozen interesting points the ‘Climate Cardinal’ made on climate change, protecting creation, Laudato Si, Pope Francis, and politics:

  1. You can see California in flames—without water. All around the world we have these problems nowadays.
  2. Cop21 in Paris (the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference) can be a turning point for putting Laudato Si into practice. It has to be a success!
  3. There are countries in the Pacific that will disappear if we fail to address climate change.
  4. This is not just a scientific issue. It’s about life. It’s about being just with creation. It is about the human person.
  5. We need a revolution in ecology.
  6. Each of us has to take on our co-responsibility for our common home. We cannot be closed down within our own borders. We are all citizens of earth.
  7. The market is not a god! When you adore different gods (idols), you become blind to reality.
  8. Politics is about serving the common good, not a party or narrow interests. And it can’t just be about the next election.
  9. Laudato Si may be the new Rerum Novarum.
  10. We pastors see the reality of poverty that those looking at statistics do not; we see it in the concrete faces of the poor.
  11. We are called to: see, judge, and act.
  12. Is Pope Francis pessimistic? Reality is what it is. But there remains hope rooted in faith…we are headed to the full realization in Christ.

You can read more about the event, which also featured Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, and John Podesta, former Counselor to President Barack Obama on climate change and energy policy, here.


Is The ‘Francis Effect’ Overcoming American Indifference to Climate Change?

Last week, Yale University released a study, The Francis Effect: How Pope Francis Changed the Conversation About Global Warming. The report aims to measure the impact of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, released in June. The media buzz surrounding this document produced more than 3,000 news stories, and parishes organized hundreds of reflection and discussion sessions. In this way, Pope Francis has been relying on others to respond to his “urgent appeal” to address ecological degradation, the impact this has had on the lives and livelihoods of our brothers and sisters, and enter into “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet” (#14).

Interestingly enough, however, even with all the attention given to this document, Yale’s study found that only 28% of Americans – and 36% of U.S. Catholics – heard “a lot” or “some” media coverage on Pope Francis’ views on the environment. Only a quarter of American Catholics said they were aware that Pope Francis had released Laudato Si’ and only 10% reported hearing “some” or “a lot” about Francis’ environmental encyclical at Mass.

Still, Yale’s report finds that more Americans – and even more Catholics – have heard more frequent media coverage about global warming since Laudato Si’ was released and are more likely to discuss this issue with friends or family. The study found that 6% more Americans and 13% more Catholics grew certain that global warming is real and 12% more Americans and 20% more Catholics acknowledge that the world’s poor will be harmed by climate change. Even though there is a wider sense that this is a moral issue (6% more Americans, 8% more U.S. Catholics) and a religious issue (4% more Americans, 7% more U.S. Catholics), this hasn’t translated into broader support for policy changes, aside from the reduction of greenhouse gasses on a national level. Only 2% more Americans support funding research into renewable energy sources, and there was actually a 3% decline for restricting CO2 emissions on coal-fired power plants. Read More


The Pope Wants Concrete Action on Climate Change and Protecting Creation

Millennial editor Robert Christian has a new article at Crux. He writes:

While Laudato Si’ builds upon decades of Catholic social teaching, the duty to care for creation that is rooted in Biblical commands, and the strong statements of his most immediate predecessors, Pope Francis provides, via his encyclical, real urgency on the need to care for creation and support an integral ecology….

Seeing certain bishops often associated with the conservative, pro-life wing of the Church embrace the pope’s call to act on the environment by enacting “green policies” has been very encouraging. In fact, this is the type of unity we should always see within the Church.

There should not be separate “social justice” and “pro-life” wings of the Church — concern for the unborn is a social justice issue and care for creation is essential to protecting human life and dignity. Church teaching is pro-life and pro-social justice; we need a unified Church that stands strong on all of these issues.

Addressing climate change and environmental degradation as part of an effort to promote the common good and integral human development is a serious, complex challenge. Dialogue is necessary. It should include Catholics and non-Catholics, politicians and citizens, scientific experts and faith leaders, and people from across the political spectrum. But dialogue must not turn into an excuse for inaction or a tactic for undermining the clarity of Church teaching on the need to care for creation.

Pope Francis, of course, supports dialogue, but he is also calling for concrete action.

The full article can be read here.