BY ISN STAFF | June 19, 2018
Jesuit institutions and organizations, including the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and other Ignatian network members, have joined nearly 600 U.S. Catholic institutions in signing the Catholic Climate Declaration, affirming the Paris Agreement and supporting actions to meet its goals. Signatories include dioceses, communities of men and women religious, health care systems, universities, parishes, and schools.
The Declaration responds to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Agreement, is in solidarity with the U.S. bishops’ position, and is consistent with the calls for climate action from Pope Francis and his predecessors, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II. The Declaration was organized by Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that partners with seventeen national Catholic institutions including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Declaration also joins the wider We Are Still In campaign organized a year ago.
“We recognize that the Catholic Church calls for local action and systematic advocacy to reform systems and structures,” shared Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., president of Creighton University. “In this tradition, The Jesuit order calls its universities, in particular, to work for justice by taking prophetic public positions on social issues and public policy.”
“We affirm the Catholic teaching that climate change is an urgent moral issue that threatens both human life and dignity, unjustly burdens the poor, and damages our common home,” he continued.
Since signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Agreement in 2010, Creighton University has reduced greenhouse emissions from purchased electricity by 25%, has installed solar and wind collection systems, established a sustainabilities studies program, and incorporated ecological sustainability throughout its new 10-year strategic plan.
“I have certainly seen at Creighton University our young people galvanized in a very meaningful way with [Laudato Si’],” said Fr. Henrickson. “This has created a new conversation and a way for our students, faculty, and staff to step forward and keep embracing this very important issue.”
Dan Misleh, Catholic Climate Covenant executive director, said: “Laudato Si’ was a high-water mark for the Church’s decades-long engagement in the climate issue. This Declaration builds on a flurry of action this past year and helps to consolidate and expand on the numerous activities already happening in the U.S. Catholic community.”
Even while the signatories noted that progress on climate change has been imperiled by President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Sister Sharlet Wagner, CSC, the president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), said, “Climate change is not a political issue but a moral issue. God’s creation is in peril by our own actions. Yet we know it is a gift for us to enjoy, safeguard, and protect for future generations.”
Throughout the summer and leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit in September, the Covenant will gather commitments from signers to the Declaration and share those during the event.