By Mary Solberg | FaithLife Editor’s Notes
Call it what you want—“deeply troubling” or “terrible”—President Donald Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate accord is disappointing to many of us.
Catholic leaders throughout the world decried the decision—using all of these adjectives and more.
Endorsed by Pope Francis, and signed by 195 nations, the Paris pact aims to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and protect our world for future generations.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said Trump’s decision “will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities.”
This echoes the viewpoint of Pope Francis, who last June released Laudato Si’, his environment encyclical that challenges all of God’s people to protect “our common home” and stop the global warming crisis. What I like about Laudato Si’ is that everyone—even our smallest children—are asked to be a part of the effort.
Over the past year, FaithLife has shared many photos and stories of children in diocesan schools and adults in parishes discussing ways to protect the environment. Sister Marian Wehler, OSB, and Sister Tina Geiger, RSM, were among the many who promoted discussions with children at St. Stephen School in Oil City, and St. Patrick School in Franklin. They talked about ways to not waste food, to save water and electricity, and to recycle.
The Bethany Retreat Center in Frenchville and Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie also have offered retreat programs on Laudato Si’.
The pope’s challenge has meant a great deal to people who live in our diocese and elsewhere. Short-sightedness won’t keep sea levels from rising or glaciers from melting. And it definitely won’t protect the most marginalized populations of our world who will be the first to suffer the ill effects of climate change, i.e., lack of food, forced evacuations from homelands, poor health, to name a few.
In 1970, when the first Earth Day was established, I was a student at Blessed Sacrament School in Erie. We made green and white ecology flags out of tissue paper and cardboard.
Our teachers challenged us to be mindful of the world around us. They asked us to notice the birds singing or to look at the color variations of the evergreens that lined our morning commute.
The sanctity of life in all of its forms is at the core of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
As Bishop Cantu said, “I can only hope that the president will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”
Mary Solberg is the editor of FaithLife.