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40 Catholic institutions plan to divest $5 trillion from fossil fuel companies

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Forty Catholic institutions, including the Belgian bishops’ conference and a leading church social welfare agency in South Africa, have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies.

The organizations cited the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” to take steps to protect the environment as well as the importance of making investments that lead to a carbon-neutral economy in an effort to address climate change. Read more »

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Catholics bring Pope Francis’ call to protect creation to climate march

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Carrying banners and signs with quotes from Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” hundreds of Catholics joined the People’s Climate March to call for moral and prayerful action to protect creation.

On a sweltering day that reinforced the message about the need to respond to climate change, the 91-degree temperature at 3 p.m. April 29 tied a 43-year-old Washington record for the date, many in the Catholic contingent said they felt they had a moral obligation to witness in the streets.

Parishioners from various parishes in New York City hold sunflower signs during the People's Climate March in Washington April 29. (CNS/Dennis Sadowski)

Parishioners from various parishes in New York City hold sunflower signs during the People’s Climate March in Washington April 29. (CNS/Dennis Sadowski)

“We march for our grandchildren. Stop global warming,” read one sign propped up in the back of St. Dominic Church in Washington, where about 300 people gathered before the march for Mass celebrated by Dominican Father Hyacinth Marie Cordell, the parish’s parochial vicar.

“The Vatican is solar. What about US?” read another. “We resist, we build, we rise,” read a sign from St. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker Community in Worcester, Mass.

Underlying the messages on the signs and banners were people who shared a heartfelt concern to carry out Pope Francis’ call in his 2015 encyclical to live responsibly with the planet, remember the needs of others around the world and to reduce consumption and energy usage for the sake of God’s creation.

They also wanted to send a message to President Donald Trump that his policies on the environment and energy development do not follow the pontiff’s call to protect Earth.

For Manny and Mary Hotchkiss, the march was their second in two weeks. Both scientists, the couple from Portland, Oregon, joined a regional March for Science in New Orleans April 22 as they made their way on a cross-country trip to a meeting of Maryknoll affiliates in Ossining, New York.

After the Mass, Mary Hotchkiss, 72, a chemist, said the couple’s involvement was required by their Catholic faith. Manny Hotchkiss, 74, a mechanical engineer, expressed dismay about the president’s policies.

“The most important thing I see with this political scene, and it brings a tear to my eye to think about it, is that everything I tried to teach our kids growing up (about science) is fully rejected by the current administration,” he said.

The 300 people at the Mass heard Father Cordell call for an “ecological conversion” during his homily. He said each person must act in any way possible to protect God’s creation: reducing energy usage; limiting waste; choosing carpooling or biking and walking more; and buying less.

“We can learn increasingly to act not only with our own good and convenience in mind, but above all to think and choose according to what is best for all, especially for the poor and for future generations,” the Dominican said. “This ecological conversion calls us to self-examination, to make an inventory of our lives and habits so that we can learn to be better stewards of our common home and its resources, which are meant for the good of all.”

He said such steps require a revolution of the heart, as Pope Francis has called each person to undertake. He described it as a “change toward responsibility and virtue, a transition to thinking about the common good, future generations, the poor, other living beings, God’s glory and the environment in all of our decisions instead of thinking only in terms of a short-term, fleeting and superficial good or convenience for ourselves.”

Sister Kathy Sherman, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph in LaGrange Park, Illinois, was pleased to hear Father Cordell stress the encyclical’s themes.

“I feel like I’m marching for the children, for the future,” she said. “Earth is getting bad for us. If we don’t do something there’s not going to be anything like we’ve known for the future generations, and it breaks my heart.”

Other members of Sister Sherman’s congregation joined a satellite march in Chicago, but she made the trek to Washington on her own because she said she felt it was important to take a message directly to administration officials.

“I think it’s so essential that we connect climate degradation with economic and racial justice,” Sister Sherman added. “It’s just the whole sense of the oneness.”

A large banner mounted on a 12-foot bamboo pole carried by Malcolm Byrnes, 57, a member of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., was one of several that quoted the pope’s encyclical. It read: “We need to reject a magical conception of the market.”

“We have to bring things back into focus and see climate change as a human issue involving all of humanity, especially the poor,” Byrnes said as he waited for the Mass-goers to begin walking to the assembly point for faith communities near the U.S. Capitol.

Byrnes said Pope Francis’ words had inspired him to consider his own actions in response to the divisive language the president and members of his administration have used during the first 100 days in office.

“We have to be activist,” he said. “We have to continue to put the pressure on and to be active. Doing it as a Catholic is ever more poignant for me.”

March organizers said the event had been planned as a follow-up to the September 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City before Trump’s election in November. The April 29 march was led by indigenous people who already are facing disrupted lives as the climate warms and causes drought and rising ocean levels.

The march kicked off less than 48 hours after the Environmental Protection Agency began to revamp its website, taking down pages devoted to climate science. The agency said in a statement late April 28 that the information was “under review.”

Some of the Catholic marchers, a multicultural mix of young and old, families, and clergy, religious and laity, said they never had been involved in such a massive event, but that it was time to put their faith into action.

Rosio Ramirez, 58, a member of St. Jerome Church in New York City, said as she waited for the march to start that she decided to travel to Washington “for our rights.”

“This president does not believe in science, so I’m trying to raise my voice for my grandson, his future,” said the native of Mexico City.

Along the march route on Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, Nancy Lorence, a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City, said personal actions are crucial if people of faith are going to make a difference. She carried a colorful cardboard sunflower on a short stick that read, “Catholics 4 the EPA,” one of 45 similar signs that she and others making the trip had made.

“We feel like ‘Laudato Si’’ calls us to be in the streets, as Pope Francis says, and be active on the social justice issues and climate change,” Lorence told CNS.

“I’ve read enough to really think that this is an emergency,” Lorence continued. “It might not affect us directly right now. But I think we are all called to think about the common good. We’re all called to think about the least of these, and the people who are the least of these are being affected by climate change.”

 

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Maryknoll honors Ursuline eighth-grader for essay on environment

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – The last week of February was a busy and successful one for Grace Smith. The Ursuline Academy eighth-grader participated in the state swimming and diving championships on Feb. 25 for the Raiders, who picked up their second straight state title. Then, three days later, she received a national award for an essay she wrote about the environment.

Grace was honored by Maryknoll Magazine for her essay responding to the theme “Caring for Our Common Home,” which was referenced by Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si.” Hers was selected from 7,261 entries from across the United States. Read more »

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Vatican marks ‘Laudato Si’’ anniversary with new website

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Catholic News Service

ROME — Marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace launched a new website dedicated to the document and efforts around the world to put its teaching into practice.

The site — www.laudatosi.va — “witnesses not only to the impact of the encyclical, but also the creativity and generosity of the people of God everywhere in the world,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, council president.

A view shows ice floating on a lake last year in front of the Solheimajokull Glacier, where the ice has receded by more than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) since annual measurements began in 1931. The Vatican has announced a website —www.laudatosi.va — on the first anniversary of Pope Francis' encyclical on care for the environment,"Laudato Si'."(CNS /Thibault Camus, pool via Reuters)

A view shows ice floating on a lake last year in front of the Solheimajokull Glacier, where the ice has receded by more than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) since annual measurements began in 1931. The Vatican has announced a website —www.laudatosi.va — on the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for the environment,”Laudato Si’.”(CNS /Thibault Camus, pool via Reuters)

The council celebrated the first anniversary of the document, “Laudato Si’,” June 20 with a small conference at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary in Montesanto.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a video message, said that as scientists, governments, economists and concerned citizens were pushing for an international agreement to combat climate change, Pope Francis’ encyclical provided the “moral imperative to take bold action.”

Published six months before the Paris summit on climate change, she said, the pope’s document raised the issue in “the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people who may not otherwise have considered climate in their daily lives.”

The science and economics of change to protect the environment are essential, Figueres said, but “the guidance of our moral compass” is what will made a difference.

Archimandrite Athenagoras Fasiolo, an Orthodox pastor in Treviso, presented the Italian edition of the book, “Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer: The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew I.”

Pope Francis’ encyclical and the collected environmental reflections of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, he said, show that “the Holy Spirit does not cease to work without interruption in his church,” inspiring leaders to teach care for “all the work of God.”

Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, an official at the justice and peace council, told Catholic News Service, “Laudato Si’” does not tell people what to think, but guides them through the complexities of the issue of climate change and care for creation, and calls them to reflect on their response.

“The variety and intensity of debate” within and outside the church, he said, “is a very healthy response” because the pope wrote the encyclical to contribute to the debate and dialogue.

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If people love God, they must care for what he has made, says Cardinal Turkson

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The lead consultant on “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, said that although it’s a document of nearly 40,000 words, its message can be summed up in one sentence. Read more »

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Vatican U.N. representative reports high interest in papal visit

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Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Requests for copies of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical and the demand for tickets to see him at the United Nations indicate enthusiasm and expectations for Pope Francis’ visit are running high, said the Vatican representative.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission at the United Nations, told Vatican Radio: “There is so much interest. Everybody wants to see the pope, even from a distance. The dream of so many is to have a selfie with the pope.”
Pope Francis is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25. Read more »

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Bishop Malooly on ‘Laudato Si’’ — God, humanity and nature

June 25th, 2015 Posted in Featured, Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Dialog Editor

 

“I like that it talks about the covenant between humanity and the environment,” Bishop Malooly said last week after Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” was published June 18 by the Vatican.

“This is what God expects of us,” the bishop said, “much as we have a significant relationship with God the Father through Jesus, we have one in our humanity with the environment because both are God-given.” Read more »

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Viewpoint: Hearing both the cry of the earth and cry of the poor

June 25th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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The “green” encyclical has arrived. It’s courageous, it’s prophetic, it’s challenging, it’s holistic, it’s wonderful. That’s what I think of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.”

“St. Francis of Assisi reminds us,” writes the pope, “that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. … Read more »

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Encyclical comes with message for all, Vatican speakers say

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on creation has come at an crucial time as increasing disregard for life and the environment requires immediate attention and action, said speakers at a Vatican news conference.

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks during a news conference to present Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment at the Vatican June 18. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks during a news conference to present Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment at the Vatican June 18. (CNS/Paul Haring)

There is “food for thought” for everyone in the text, and not liking something one reads in it is not an excuse to dismiss the whole document as irrelevant, some speakers said.

The 180-page encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” was unveiled during a news conference June 18 in the Vatican synod hall. Foreign ambassadors to the Holy See, Vatican officials, religious and scores of media outlets attended the presentation.

In response to a question about criticism that the pope should stick to theological topics and not touch on science-related pronouncements, Cardinal Peter Turkson said a desire to bar the pope from talking about “science sounds a little bit strange.”

Science isn’t off-limits to the public and anyone can contribute to a discussion or debate, even non-experts, said the cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and worked on early drafts of the text.

Even journalists publish and politicians speak out about topics outside their area of expertise, he said, because people talk about the kind of things they think are important.

When it comes to U.S. politicians who said they will listen to the pope talk about theology, but not science, the cardinal said to “not listen to the pope is their freedom, their freedom of choice.”

However, if they choose to be deaf to his voice because he is a religious figure and not a scientist, then that argument reflects an age-old “artificial split … between religion and public life,” he said, “as if religion has no role to play in the public sphere.”

Instead, “reason does have blind spots” that can use the light and fullness of the Christian vision, and “reason can also challenge religion to be concrete and practical,” he said, emphasizing how the two sides need to dialogue and work together as much as possible.

A leading climate scientist, Hans Schellnhuber, said the encyclical is “very unique” because it merges “two strong powers in the world” -— faith and reason — into one discussion.

Many of the world’s problems can be solved if the two forces “work together hand in hand,” said the theoretical physicist, who heads the Institute for Climate Impact in Potsdam, Germany; the pope also named him a member of the papal think-tank, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, June 17.

The document, which presents the church’s spiritual and moral teachings, also drew upon solid scientific consensus and “the overwhelming body of evidence” that says the world’s temperatures are on the rise due to a number of factors, including the burning of fossil fuels, Schellnhuber said.

“It’s time to form alliances,” he said, “and change what is in our power to change.”

Metropolitan John of Pergamon, a noted Orthodox theologian and top aide to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, a leader in the Christian ecology movement, also spoke at the Vatican news conference.

Pope Francis expressly wanted the presentation to be led by representatives from the Orthodox, Catholic and secular-scientific communities to show how dialogue and alliances were possible.

Metropolitan John said he was deeply honored and grateful to be representing the work of the ecumenical patriarchate, which was “the first in the Christian world to draw the attention of the world community to the seriousness of the ecological problem and the duty of the church to voice its concern” and contribute its spiritual approach to environmental protection.

He said people should be “impressed by the depth and thoroughness with which the ecological problem is treated” in the encyclical as well as its “concrete suggestions and proposals on how to act.”

There is “food for thought” for everyone in the text, he said, including for economists, scientists, sociologists and most of all, Christians, as it provides an analysis of the causes and connections of today’s social, financial, environmental and spiritual crises, as well as a Christian response.

Carolyn Woo was another speaker added to the roster to discuss what is needed to build sustainable economies and businesses. CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services, Woo also served as dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business for many years.

She said Pope Francis is “a forward-thinking business leader” because he shows how important it is to face up to and do something about failures, waste and bad morale.

He asks people “not just to rely on market forces or even on technology” without also being guided by human and moral values that call for a higher standard of protecting and respecting the resources they need and people they serve, she said.

“There will be people who will want to dismiss the pope’s message on a basis of lack of evidence,” she said.

But “for business, which is so big on analytics, it is important that it open its mind and heart to evidence. We could not dismiss this just because we don’t like the message from this evidence” that people have not been treating their common home well, Woo said.

Cardinal Turkson said the encyclical and the church do not “presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics,” but to encourage honest and open debate dedicated to the common good.

“Laudato Si’ can and must have an impact” in building new and sustainable policies and practices, but the “pastoral and spiritual dimensions of the document must not be put in second place” if true, integral and lasting change and conversion are to happen, he said.

 

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What to do? Francis suggests ways to help the environment in “Laudato Si’”

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” is a call for global action as well as an appeal for deep inner conversion.

Pope Francis in his encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," released June 18, said all creation is singing God's praise but people are silencing it. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” released June 18, said all creation is singing God’s praise but people are silencing it. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He points to numerous ways world organizations, nations and communities must move forward and the way individuals, believers and people of good will, should see, think, feel and act. Read more »

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