Care of Creation

Background

As Franciscans, we are committed to caring for the Earth. Saint Francis saw all creation as brother and sister – all one in the family of God. Today it is more important than ever that we learn from Francis' example and live in ways that sustain and not drain our Earth. This connectedness with creation is integral to our Franciscan lifestyle.

 

Pope Francis' encyclical letter on ecology, Laudato Sí, says all of the best and truest things that could be said about our place here on Earth, "our common home.” Pope Francis calls us to understand our role among the deeply connected creatures of God's creation. He calls us to lead simpler lives that are more authentic and less driven by consumption. Most of all, he calls us to care for the Earth and its people.    

 

In the spring of 2021, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development plans to launch a seven-year journey to sustainability in the spirit of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical. It is a call to the universal church, an invitation to seven sectors: families, parishes and dioceses, educational institutions, health care centers, the economy, organizations and groups, and religious orders to take concrete steps toward a sustainable future in the spirit of Laudato Si’.  The Sisters of St. Francis are excited to be a part of the Laudato Si’ inspired network that will expand and grow exponentially each year.

 

What is the Climate Crisis and Why is it Happening?

Climate change refers to the long-term change in weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. Over the last century, scientists have observed an alarming rise in extreme weather events across the globe. Evidence indicates that the climate crisis which we are currently experiencing is caused by excessive greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide which prevent excess heat from escaping the near-surface of the Earth. These excessive greenhouse gases are a direct result of human activity, specifically through our extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, our excessive consumption habits as well as transportation, agricultural, and food systems. The climate crisis, combined with depletion of resources and contamination of air, water, and land, is bringing devastating harm to the Earth.

 

How Can We Solve It?

Reversing the climate crisis is a group project. It requires us all – individuals, organizations, businesses, and nations – to commit to urgent action.

 

  1. Promote global cooperation. As a nation, we must recognize that climate change is a global issue and work cooperatively with the rest of the world to mitigate the crisis. Worldwide efforts such as the Paris Climate Agreement are an important step toward solving the problem.
     
  2. Reduce consumption.  From their extraction through sale, use, and disposal, all the goods, products, and materials we consume in our lives affect communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff examines our production and consumption patterns and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. As individuals, by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, we stand a chance to ensure that future generations will have the essential resources that they need to survive.
     
  3. Decrease reliance on fossil fuels. The biggest contributor to the greenhouse effect is carbon dioxide which is a by-product of burning fossil fuels, such as coal, to produce electricity.  Half of the electricity generated in the United States is from burning coal. While coal is cheap, it is a non-renewable resource that is destroying our planet. Viable alternatives include wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal and more. As individuals, we can calculate our unique Carbon Footprint: the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. This information can help determine where each of us can start to make changes in our lifestyles to cause less harm to the Earth.
     
  4. Reform our food systems.  Concern for safe and adequate food sources for all is a multi-faceted issue that is related to sustainable agricultural practices, governmental food regulations, and individual dietary choices that promote health and cause minimal harm to the planet. Factory farming is widespread and dangerous, resulting in manure disposal issues that lead to tainted water and severe air pollution. Agricultural policies are crucial to sustaining family farmers and fishermen who are increasingly struggling to compete with large multi-national corporations. The processing, packaging, and transportation of food and food products, referred to as the “true cost” of food, adds to the accumulation of greenhouse gases and adds to the problem of solid waste disposal. As individuals, we can choose to consume fresh, locally-grown products and make other changes to our diets that reduce our overall carbon footprint and promote better health.
     
  5. Protect access to clean water for all. Understand that water is a sacred gift that is essential to all life.  Today, globally, one in three people live without safe drinking water. The UN estimates that if current trends continue, by 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year (Source: United Nations). Already, privatization is making water service too costly for communities that were able to afford municipal service.  As water safety and scarcity become a bigger issue, struggles over control of water resources and systems are growing.

 

Resources

Catholic Climate Covenant

Catholic Climate Covenant inspires and equips people and institutions to care for Creation and care for people experiencing poverty. Through 19 national partners, they guide the U.S. Church's response to climate change by educating, giving public witness, and offering resources.

https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/

 

Global Catholic Climate Movement

The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a community of Catholics, responding to the Pope’s call to action in the Laudato Sí encyclical. It is made up of lay people, priests, religious, bishops, and a global network of member organizations working together on the climate change crisis.  The Global Catholic Climate Movement is united by the Catholic faith and by the moral imperative of responding to and raising awareness about climate change.

https://catholicclimatemovement.global/

 

Interfaith Power and Light

Interfaith Power & Light is mobilizing a religious response to global warming. Their mission is to inspire and mobilize people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. This campaign intends to protect the Earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all.

https://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/

 

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The NRDC works to safeguard the Earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. Combining the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe they work to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

https://www.nrdc.org/

 

Green America

Green America harnesses economic power – the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace – to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. They work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the abundance of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.

https://www.greenamerica.org/

 

Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Their mission is to speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. They organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change. the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice anestroy

https://foe.org/

 

Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization.

They wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

https://earthjustice.org/

 

Food and Water Action

Food & Water Action mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. They work to protect people’s health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

https://www.foodandwateraction.org/

 

Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, they drive consumer choice and civic action.

https://www.ewg.org/

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