Denver Post: Catholic Church on Climate Change: Franciscans Urging Policy Changes in United States

Catholic Church on Climate Change: Franciscans Urging Policy Changes in United States

The Denver Post, August 16 2012

This NASA handout image from Oct. 7, 2011, shows a haze over eastern China. Dust and aerosol pollution from Asia travels across the ocean and sullies the air in the United States and Canada, possibly worsening the effects of climate change, a NASA-backed study showed

U.S. Catholic bishops take a lot of heat for entangling themselves in American politics when it comes to abor- tion, contraception and same-sex marriage. But for those of you who have come to mistake Catholics as mem- bers of a monolithic, conservative Republican super PAC, consider the Franciscan Action Network.

The Franciscans, who also seek to transform U.S. public policy, say one of the most serious challenges facing the nation is being ignored by both presidential candidates. They’re calling on President Obama and Mitt Romney to acknowledge that global climate change is “an extremely critical ecological and moral issue.” Obama and Romney should identify the actions they would take to address this “threat to life on earth,” they say.

“The most prestigious scientific bodies in the world agree that climate change is a reality, that it is primarily attributed to human actions, and that the emission of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced to avert devastating consequences,” the Franciscan Action Network wrote in a release this week. “Leaders of major faith communities also agree that global warming is a real and serious moral and ethical concern.”

The Franciscans note that even famed, self-professed climate-change skeptic Dr. Richard Muller, University of California, Berkeley physics professor, now acknowledges global warming is a fact — and so is humankind’s culpability.

It’s not just the Franciscan Action Network, a group of Franciscan friars, sisters and lay people, who has ex- pressed concern. Yet the mainstream media didn’t widely report that Pope Benedict, in an address to the Vati- can diplomatic corps two years ago expressed strong concern about “economic and political resistance to com- bating the degradation of the environment.”

The U.S. bishops, though headliners on the topics of contraception mandates, reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, were more or less ignored when they released their statement, “Faithful Stewards of God’s Crea- tion,” which said climate change requires a response from leaders.

“At this critical juncture in our history, we need to not just comprehend the gravity and urgency of global cli- mate change; we must insist that the dialogue on climate change be civil, respectful and truthful, and call for collaborative action to protect creation for future generations,” wrote FAN Executive Director Patrick Carolan. “The Franciscan tradition teaches us that all of creation has intrinsic value, not because of economic worth, but because all creation is a reflection of God.”

The Franciscans are siding with Creation, they say, and U.S. leaders must have the moral courage to acknowledge the critical nature of climate change and to provide a plan of action.