Celebrating Earth Day and worrying about Creation
April 22 is Earth Day
For us as citizens, this is a day to take stock of what we are doing to our air, water and natural resources. For us as people of faith, this is also an opportunity to celebrate the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Indeed, the whole month of April is aptly suited for celebrating our planet and all that it provides for our sustenance.
Earth Day is not strictly a celebration, of course, because we would quickly sober to the reality of how we treat our home and what mess we may be leaving for generations to come. There’s also the question of how we share the earth’s resources.
Pope Francis in his universal prayer intention for April put it this way: “That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.”
By and large, Catholic Rural Life members are deeply concerned about the effects of global warming and how climate change is starting to ravage our planet. We are compelled by our conscience to take action on this deeply moral challenge, although we realize there’s only so much we can do as individuals.
It is really a change in our economy and culture that is needed. Read more on our Blog.
What do the U.S. Catholic Bishops have to say about climate change and protecting Creation?
The following is taken from a letter sent to the U.S. Congress last year by the Most Rev. Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
Bishop Blaire begins by thanking the co-chairs of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change for their leadership to address climate change and the opportunity to share the bishops’ suggestions for effective measures to address the moral and environmental challenges of global warming. Then he continues:
“Effective measures to address climate change are urgent and necessary. Evidence continues to point toward significant damaging impacts from climate related events in the United States, across the globe, and particularly for the poorest developing countries. Some poor nations and small island states already experience these impacts as a matter of survival for their people and cultures.
“People living in poverty in communities served by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) already suffer the tragic consequences of climate change. Increasingly limited access to water, reduced crop yields, more widespread disease, and increased frequency and intensity of droughts and storms all make the lives of the world’s poorest people even more precarious. CRS, which supports projects in almost 100 countries, already assists many communities to adapt to the consequences of climate change.
“In signaling the moral dimensions of this issue and advocating for the needs of the most vulnerable, the Catholic Church brings a distinct perspective to this urgent matter. Throughout his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated strong leadership on climate change in his teaching office and through efforts to reduce the Vatican’s own carbon footprint. In his 2010 World Day of Peace Message, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation, he pointed to the urgent moral need for solidarity with creation and those affected by climate change.”
“For the USCCB, a fundamental moral measure of any policy to address climate change is how it affects the poor, in our country and around the world. Well-designed policies can both reduce the severity of climate change and protect the most vulnerable. The USCCB supports strong leadership by the United States in enacting policies that protect poor and vulnerable people from bearing the impacts of climate change and from the human and economic costs of any proposed legislation to respond to climate change.
“The USCCB asks the U.S. Congress and the federal government to consider the following principles as they shape policies and measures to address climate change:
— Prudence requires us to act to protect the common good by addressing climate change at home and abroad.
— The consequences of climate change will be borne by the world’s most vulnerable people and inaction will worsen their suffering.
— Policies addressing global climate change should enhance rather than diminish the economic situation of people in poverty.
— Policies should create new resources to assist poor and adversely affected communities to adapt and respond to the effects of global climate change in the U.S. and in vulnerable developing countries.
— Policies to address climate change should include measures to protect poor and vulnerable communities from the health impacts of climate change, including increased exposure to climate- sensitive diseases, heat waves and diminished air quality.
— Participation by local affected communities in shaping policy responses to address climate change and programs for adapting to climate change is essential.
— Technology should be made available to people in the most vulnerable developing countries to help them adapt to the effects of climate change (adaptation) and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation).
“We appreciate your commitment to address this urgent global challenge confronting the human family. The USCCB stands ready to work with you, members of Congress, and the Administration to ensure that needed climate legislation both cares for creation and protects the least of these.”