Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Catholic Climate Covenant

I would like to draw our readers' attention to a Web site, Catholic Climate Covenant, launched at the end of April by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, a group that was founded in 2006 with the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change members include: The USCCB Departments of Justice, Peace and Human Development and Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Franciscan Action Network, National Council of Catholic Women, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and Carmelite NGO. Its work is funded by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

The main purpose of the Web site is to encourage viewers to sign the St. Francis Pledge and thus join the Covenant. The pledge reads:

I/We Pledge to:
  • PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
  • LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
  • ASSESS how we — as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations — contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
  • ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
  • ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.

In addition to signing the pledge, viewers can find resources on what Catholics can do to advocate for the environment and environmental justice, Catholic social teachings on environmental issues, and suggested prayers and other liturgical resources. There is also information on what Catholics can do as individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and links to other organizations working on these issues.

So I would like to encourage you to check out this valuable resource and share it with other brothers and sisters in your parishes, maybe through a mention in your parish bulletin or a link from your parish Web site. "Care for Creation" and "Care for the Poor" -- conventional wisdom used to say that those ideas were mutually exclusive, that environmentalism was bad for job creation and would adversely affect poor communities. Now we know that not only is this not so, but that the poor are disproportionately affected by bad environmental practices, whether it's toxic wastes dumped in their communities because they're powerless to prevent it, or shortcuts taken in preventing occupational exposure to chemicals because the workforce is uneducated or undocumented and can't fight back, or contamination of the water and soil in poor and often indigenous communities from careless mining and gas production. These are social sins and, ultimately, "life" issues. As this group makes it clear even in their logo, caring for the poor and the planet must go hand in hand.

NOTA: Para los lectores hispanohablantes, el sitio Web de la Alianza Católica por el Clima está disponible en español:

Walk lightly

Each leaf, each petal,
each grain, each person,
sings your praises,
Creator God.

Each creature on the earth,
all the mountains and great seas
show your glory,
Spirit of love.

And yet the hand of greed
has patented and plundered
your splendour,
has taken and not shared
your gift,
has lived as owner of the earth,
not guest.

And so
the ice is cracked
the rivers dry,
the valleys flooded
and the snowcaps melt.

God our Father, show us
how to step gently,
how to live simply,
how to walk lightly
with respect and love
for all that you have made.


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