Everyone Must Act Responsibly to Save Our World

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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.

 



Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: Catholic, Jesuit Schools and Pope Francis’ Ecological Vision

Millennial writer Daniel DiLeo has a new article at Political Theology Today. He writes:

In order to respond to Pope Francis’ ecological message, it is first important that we understand the message itself. Although there are a number of ways to present what Francis has said about ecology, I think there are at least five core ideas that define his ecological vision: the goodness of all creation; humanity’s unique place in creation; the connection between creation care and human flourishing; humanity’s stewardship responsibility; and the need to address anthropogenic climate change.

The full article can be read here.