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Faith Leaders Speak out on Climate

March 5th, 2015

The comments below are from a talk given by Archbishop Thomas Wenski in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 20. Archbishop Wenski was one of several religious leaders taking part on a briefing on religion and climate change sponsored by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The briefing — aimed at Congress — took place at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center and was open to Congressional staffers, members of Congress, and representatives from the faith community. OMI JPIC staff attended the briefing. For a more complete version of the Archbishop’s remarks, please visit our partner organization, Catholic Rural Life.

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The US Capitol Visitor Center

“While the precise details of how climate change will affect the world are not known, the projections shared by scientists have been alarming. We can no longer ignore the visible signs that changes are occurring in our environment that will affect all life, especially human life. In many poorer nations, years of relief and development work are being undone by prolonged droughts, more intense storms and other extreme weather conditions associated with climate change.”

“Bishops are not scientists but we are pastors — and in so far as climate change affects concrete human beings, it is a moral issue; and pastors, in exercising their care of their flocks, do weigh in — and appropriately so — on moral issues. Also, as Catholics, we firmly believe that the poor have a first claim on our consciences in matters pertaining to the common good. As the U.S. Catholic bishops said in our 2001 climate change statement, “Action to mitigate global climate change must be built upon a foundation of social and economic justice.”

“This past July, on behalf of the U.S. bishops, I wrote a letter supporting “the EPA proposal for a national standard to reduce significantly carbon pollution.” And while the devil may be in the details, I said: ‘These standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially children, the elderly, as well as poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution emitted from power plants and from the impacts of climate change.’ ”

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