By Kathy Brown, Catholic Charities USA
The news from the United States on passing legislation on climate change that would protect the poor throughout the world is not good.
Throughout the past year, key Senators have been asked to include and strengthen provisions in climate legislation that would protect poor and vulnerable people, in our country and around the world, from the impacts of climate change and the effects of policies needed to address it.
Unfortunately, the Senate will not consider climate legislation this year.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that respected the concerns of the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups. It included moderate funding for domestic and international programs for adaption and mitigation. The Senate came up with their own bill which did not meet the approval of the bishops’ conference.
Given that this is an election year, the chances of their being any more work on even a modest energy package this fall, is probably small. Members of Congress are anxious to get home to campaign. Both the Senate and House hope to recess October 8th.
St. Francis of Assisi reminds us of God’s creation and re-commit ourselves to its care. As an advocate for the poor, he also reminds us to remember the poor.
Through the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change (Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services are part of the Coalition) in the United States, work has been done to provide a way for parishes, schools, dioceses or hospitals to commit themselves to care for the creation and for the poor.
As the Coalition states, “The impact of climate change falls heaviest on the poor. Our faith invites us to tread lightly and act boldly.” A year ago, the Coalition launched ‘Who’s Under Your Carbon Footprint?’, a campaign inviting people to take the St. Francis Pledge to care for creation and the poor.
Participants pledge to pray and reflect on the duty to care for God’s creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
They learn about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change. They assess how we individually and collectively contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, and more.
They act to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change. And they advocate for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
Since starting the campaign, 52 parishes have taken the Pledge. Most of the national Catholic agencies have taken the Pledge. And Catholic hospitals have pledged.