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’ Call for Sustainable, Integral Development

Check out these highlights from this excellent speech by the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, at the Global Responsibility 2030 conference meeting in Germany:

  • Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges facing the human family.
  • It is no longer sufficient to measure human progress only in terms of a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP was always an inadequate measure of well-being. As a gross measure, it ignored significant variations of outcomes among sub-populations – and we now have disastrous gaps between the super-rich and the utterly destitute. As a single measure, it always ignored other essential foundations of well-being.
  • Social inclusion and environmental sustainability are intrinsic to true development.
  • True development must be sustainable development. It must rest on three legs—economic, social, and environmental. And if one leg is neglected, then the entire structure collapses.
  • Sustainable development calls for a world in which economic progress is widespread, poverty is eliminated, the resources of the earth are shared fairly, the environment is protected from human-induced degradation, and all people can flourish.
  • The problem, says Pope Francis, is not so much the market economy itself, but the ideology that too often lies behind it—the “deified market” or the “magical conception of the market” which resist the necessary political oversight and regulation.
  • The solution, according to Catholic social teaching, is to choose solidarity over self-interest, the common good over profit maximization, integral human development over materialism, and sustainability over short-termism. That does not mean rejecting the market; it does mean recognizing its clear limits, and keeping it under human and ethical control.
  • In Catholic social teaching, integral human development refers to the development of the whole person and every person. Such multi-faceted development goes well beyond an ever-expanding GDP, even a better-distributed one, and merely economic or material progress. It encompasses the cultural, social, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious dimensions. It is an invitation for each person on the planet to flourish, to use the gifts given to them by God to become who they were meant to be.
  • Pope Francis is calling on all people to pursue a kind of progress that is more integral, more sustainable, and ultimately more worthwhile.
  • Rapacious profits are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets; corruption, bribery, and cruelty are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets. Indeed, the opposite is true.
  • Overcoming the interrelated social and environmental crises will require a wholly different attitude—a cultural revolution, he says. By this, the Holy Father does not mean a naïve rejection of technology and the benefits of modern society. No, he means putting human ingenuity in the service of a better kind of progress—one that is healthier, more human, more social, and more integral. In turn, this calls for us to overturn what he calls the myths of modernity—individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, a market without rules.
  • Pope Francis is calling for sustainable development, yes, but ultimately for a deeper vision of what is to be served by that development: the Earth returned to its health and beauty, home for all our future generations.

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.


The Four Preeminent Political Issues Facing the United States

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Bishop Robert McElroy has a new article at America, in which he discusses faithful citizenship:

In Francis’ message he made clear that the core of the vocation of public service, and of all politics, is to promote the integral development of every human person and of society as a whole. It is a vocation that requires special and self-sacrificial concern for the poor, the unborn, the vulnerable and the marginalized. It is a commitment to pursue the common good over that of interest groups or parties or self-aggrandizement. It is a profoundly spiritual and moral undertaking.

This same spiritual and moral identity is also emblazoned upon the most foundational act of citizenship in our society, that of voting for candidates for office. Thus, ultimately it is to the citizens of our nation as a whole that the challenge of Pope Francis is directed. Catholic teaching proclaims that voting is inherently an act of discipleship for the believer. But American political life increasingly creates a distorted culture that frames voting choices in destructive categories that rob them of their spiritual character and content…..

The primary step of moral conversion to the common good requires an ever deeper affective understanding of how the commitment to the dignity of the human person radically embraces each of the issues that Pope Francis identified as constitutive of the common good of the United States at this moment in our history. It requires, in a very real sense, the development of “a Catholic political imagination” that sees the mutual linkages between poverty and the disintegration of families, war and the refugee crisis around the world, the economic burdens of the aging and our societal lurch toward euthanasia….

Bishop McElroy also outlined the “four pre-eminent political issues facing the United States that touch upon life as gift and responsibility in a decisive way”:

The first is abortion. The direct destruction of more than one million human lives every year constitutes a grievous wound upon our national soul and the common good….

The second is poverty. In a world of incredible wealth, more than five million children die every year from hunger, poor sanitation and the lack of potable water. Millions more die from a lack of the most elementary medical care….

A third pre-eminent issue centering upon life as gift and responsibility is care of the earth, our common home. The progressive degradation of the global environment has created increased poverty and death among many of the poorest peoples on earth….

The final pre-eminent question at stake in the political common good of the United States today is assisted suicide. For at its core, assisted suicide is the bridgehead of a movement to reject the foundational understanding of life as gift and responsibility when confronting end-of-life issues.

You can read the full article here.



What is the Whole Life Movement?

At its core, the whole life movement is dedicated to protecting the life and dignity of all people. It is rooted in a belief in the innate dignity and worth of every single human being. Each human being is a person with innate and equal value, and human life is sacred. From these premises comes the belief that it is never permissible to intentionally and directly take an innocent life. But the wanton disregard for life present in unjust social structures and the dehumanization of others in ways short of direct killing are also incompatible with the whole life commitment to human life and dignity. Indirect threats to life, such as the absence of access to healthcare or food, are also fundamentally incompatible with the vision of government and society the whole life movement aims to achieve: the common good. Protecting the life of all people is intimately connected to creating conditions that reflect the dignity of every single person, conditions that allow each person to reach their full potential.

The whole life movement is not a rival of the pro-life movement. Instead, it seeks to purify the pro-life movement of its inconsistencies. A pro-life movement that ignores infant mortality rates, starvation, or the degradation of the environment simply does not deserve the label ‘pro-life.’ It becomes a mere euphemism for supporting laws that restrict access to abortion. It becomes detached from the understanding of human dignity and worth that should animate the movement. Only a whole life approach can make the pro-life movement authentically pro-life. Read More