Washington D.C., Feb 20, 2017 / 02:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The United States government has the opportunity to overcome political divisions and respond effectively to climate change, the nation's bishops have said in a letter to the Secretary of State.
“The Judeo-Christian tradition has always understood the environment to be a gift from God,” the bishops said. “From time immemorial, the people of our nation have recognized this gift in our abundant and beautiful lands, pristine waters and clear skies. Rooted in this tradition, Pope Francis called on the world’s leaders to come together to protect the gift of our common home.”
The Feb. 17 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was signed by Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Justice and Human Development; and Sean L. Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services.
“We have one common home, and we must protect it,” the letter said. Its authors lamented that environmental issues can be “politicized for partisan agendas and used in public discourse to serve different economic, social, political and ideological interests.”
However, they said, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si' has invited everyone “to rise above these unhelpful divisions.” The Pope has rejected “a narrow understanding of climate change that excludes natural factors and other causes.” The bishops said human-caused climate change is widely recognized, as is the importance to help communities and nations adapt in response.
“The poor and vulnerable disproportionately suffer from hurricanes, floods, droughts, famines and water scarcities,” they said. Efforts to adapt to climate change must be accompanied by efforts to mitigate human contributions to climate change.
The bishops stressed the importance of U.S. leadership and commitment to the international agreement on climate change signed in Paris in 2015. They called that agreement a “key step” to goals like curtailing carbon emissions and assisting vulnerable populations in the U.S.
The bishops asked Tillerson to support the Green Climate Fund that helps developing nations build resilience to climate change and recover from negative climate change impact. They also called for an “energy revolution” that could provide sustainable, efficient and clean energy in a way that is “affordable, accessible and equitable.”
“This will require ingenuity, investment and enterprise, all virtues of the American people. Our leading scientists and engineers, research institutions and energy companies have already made great strides towards developing affordable clean energy,” the bishops’ letter said. The U.S. has the opportunity to achieve energy security and assert global leadership in growing sustainable energy capabilities through infrastructure and technological investment, they continued.
“This is a time of both uncertainty and significant opportunity for our nation and world,” the bishops told Tillerson. “Filled with hope in God, we pray that your work may contribute to America’s material, social and spiritual wealth and further solidarity across the world.”