Eight local Catholic organizations have reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement global climate change accord by signing the Catholic Climate Declaration.
The Catholic Climate Covenant is a nonprofit formed by the U.S. bishops and other Catholic organizations in 2006 to help guide church response to the moral consequences of climate change. The declaration affirms the commitment of Catholic parishes, dioceses, schools, colleges and universities, health care organizations and religious communities to the goals of the Paris Agreement despite U.S. withdrawal in 2017.
The University of San Francisco, Daughters of Charity, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Presentation Sisters, Sisters of Mercy, St. Raphael Parish in San Rafael, St. Teresa of Avila Parish in San Francisco and Mercy High School in San Francisco are among the more than 600 Catholic organizations nationwide that had signed the declaration as of July 28.
The commitments are in the spirit of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato si’” (“On Care for our Common Home.” The pope lamented “pollution, waste and the throwaway culture” and called for a new dialogue on what he called the rapid acceleration of changes affecting humanity, especially the poor, and the planet.
Instead of “lapsing into despair” or apathy because the scientific evidence of climate change is already so overwhelming, the encyclical provides “an Ignatian spirituality to actively engage us and give us a clear path forward,” University of San Francisco president Jesuit Father Paul Fitzgerald told Catholic San Francisco.
He said the Jesuit university has redoubled its efforts to give all students a “sense of responsibility around climate change and the impacts that overwhelmingly affect the poor.”
New undergraduate programs have taken root, including environmental science, environmental studies and urban agriculture – the latter to educate students about corporate food systems, more equitable models of agriculture, and environmental and food justice.
Almost 20 years ago, the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael signed the Earth Charter, an international declaration of values and principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society.
When it came to supporting the Catholic Climate Covenant, the sisters “were all in one accord,” said Sister Carla Kovack, OP.
“As Dominicans we have always appreciated all of creation and find truth and beauty to be reflective of the divine,” Sister Carla said.
The sisters’ efforts, including hosting an environmental film series, writing letters to lawmakers and investing community funds in “green” projects, will be presented at the Global Climate Action Summit Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco as examples of tangible actions by covenant signatories.
At the Sisters of Mercy, the Earth is one of the community’s five “critical concerns,” along with nonviolence, immigration, racism and women.
Faith-rooted workshops on climate change
San Francisco will host the first international climate conference organized by a U.S. state, Sept. 12-14 at Moscone Center. The Global Climate Action Summit was organized by California Gov. Jerry Brown to support the 2015 Paris Agreement from which President Trump withdrew in 2017. Visit climateactionsummit.org. Catholics are invited to Grace Cathedral to attend a series of free faith-rooted affiliated workshops led by experts the week of the summit. Visit diocal.org to register.
Speaker on parish embrace of ‘Laudato si”
The power of parishes to spread the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical will be the topic of a talk by Jesuit Father John Coleman, associate pastor of St. Ignatius Parish, at St. Anselm Parish, Ross, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. The free talk coincides with the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco Sept. 12-14.
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.