As faithful Catholics, we have a moral obligation to care for both creation and the poor.
The effects of climate change are being felt across the world; from natural disasters, to the destruction of natural resources, the most vulnerable and impoverished populations of our world are bearing the costs. In countries where Columbans work that are rich in oil, gas, and minerals – like the Philippines, Peru and Chile – extractive industries have inflicted lasting damage to communities and Creation. Currently, 783 million people live without access to clean water, and 2.5 billion live without sanitation facilities. Water, the basis for all human life, a sacred source of life we must protect. This year, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach joined the steering committee of Catholic Climate Covenant. The following excerpts are from the Catholic Climate Covenant.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says: “There are other weak and defenseless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.”
After decades of steady progress in reclaiming and advancing the Catholic Church’s efforts to embrace an ethic of environmental stewardship, the Catholic Climate Covenant (previously, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change) was formed in 2006 with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.
The Catholic Climate Covenant supports and complements USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and the bishops’ Environmental Justice Program. The Covenant is seen nationally and globally as a catalyst, convener and clearinghouse that urges Catholic individuals, families, parishes, schools and other organizations to embrace and act on Catholic teaching as it relates to care for creation and climate change. As described on the Catholic Teachings page, authentic Catholic teaching on creation care and climate change emphasizes the virtue of prudence, protection of human life and dignity, particular concern for the poor and vulnerable, and promotion of solidarity and the common good.
The Covenant’s primary organizing tool is the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor. Over 10,000 Catholic individuals, families and parishes have taken the Pledge by registering their commitment here. In addition, dozens of Catholic dioceses, religious communities, and colleges/universities have also taken the Pledge by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.