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Friday, January 14, 2011

Climate and faith

One trend you'll see accelerate in 2011 is news of Catholic leaders—indeed, members of all faiths—warning their flocks about climate change.

Take, for instance, the Holy Father, who as recently as October, in a speech given at a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, said that "today we see that with the climate problems, the foundations of the earth are threatened, threatened by our behavior."

Following this were his comments in Light of the World, his book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald. When asked about the resistance that governments and cultures are demonstrating in dealing with (or even accepting) climate change, the Holy Father, in part, responded
to this extent a certain potential for moral insight is present. But the conversion of this into political will and political actions is then rendered largely impossible by the lack of willingness to do without.
And then,

The question is therefore: How can the great moral will, which everybody affirms and everyone invokes, become a personal decision?
Yes! That is the question. And to this conundrum, the Holy Father provides a solution: It will be necessary for the Church to increasingly enter this dialogue ...

For she is so close to people’s consciences that she can move them to particular acts of self-denial and can inculcate basic attitudes in souls.
Beautiful words. True words. But words that all too often fall on deaf ears within Holy Mother Church.

Gladly, others are joining their voices with that of Benedict XVI. Indeed, we applaud the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for sounding the climate alarm for well over a decade. The laity has a critical role, too. Vince Cinches, executive director of the Fisherfolk Development Center Inc., of Cebu, Philippines, is getting well-deserved attention for lobbying incoming Archbishop Jose Palma about issues like climate change.

There’s also interfaith momentum. In the United States, we have the sizable Interfaith Power and Light, a group that’s encouraging preachers of all faiths to speak this February (with the same clarity as Benedict XVI) on climate change. Clergy, check here for information on the “National Preach in on Global Warming.” (Note to IPL: It’s CLIMATE CHANGE! The term “global warming” is a popular one, but not a scientific one—never has been—and it only muddies the waters.)

And so it goes as evidence about climate change mounts... stay tuned for much, much more. 

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