October 8, 2019

What are spiritual leaders saying about climate change?


Paper, plastic, and chemical pollution are a pro-life issue because of the effect waste has on the lives of millions of people around the world, especially the impoverished and most vulnerable populations on earth.

What changes can we make that will have a lasting impact on the climate crisis?

We decided to check in with a few spiritual leaders for advice on how we can be better stewards of God’s creation, and we were impressed with the wisdom each one had to offer. We made a list. (Let us know if there is anything you’d like to add.)

Ending the culture of waste. Archbishop José H. Gomez joined with the California Catholic bishops to remind us that, “Pope Francis calls us to recognize our ‘throwaway culture,’ which ‘affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish’ (LS 22) … We see this in abortion and the direct taking of life through euthanasia and assisted suicide.” 

This pastoral letter provides helpful tips for making a difference—whether you are a child, teenager, parent, or educator. These tips include: being energy efficient, recycling more, using less water—and speaking to your legislators.

Did you know that writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a grassroots initiative that makes a huge difference?

Staff members for government legislators carefully read these letters and relay their contents back to your legislator. Elected officials need to know what their constituents are thinking, so tell them. (Find a helpful template here.)

Money is only as good as the purpose it serves. Justin Welby serves the Church of England as the Archbishop of Canterbury, but before he was ordained, he was a successful oil industry executive.

Speaking from his experience in both business and church ministry, he says, “Money is not morally neutral—it can do harm and it can do good. At the very least it is the responsibility of investors to take account of environmental, social, and governance factors in their investment decisions and in their stewardship of their assets.”

Many big companies—miners, airlines, and car manufacturers—are responsible for the high levels of carbon emissions that are negatively affecting the planet. Those investing money can consider moving their money away from these companies until they agree to  carbon reduction strategies.

Last year, the Church of England voted to withdraw investments from companies that were not properly acting to better care for the earth  by 2023.

Buying groceries with conservation in mind. Pope Francis wants to end the “culture of waste,” saying that we have become “insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”

An estimated one in nine people on the planet do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life, meaning about 12.9 percent of the world’s population is undernourished.

In past generations, Pope Francis says, leftover food was saved for the next day. “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry,” he says. Today in the United States, an estimated 30-40 percent of the food supply is wasted.

Consider how meal planning, eating leftovers, and freezing food can eliminate waste. After all, Mother Teresa said waste is the only thing that makes her angry. 

“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things that we could use,” she said. 

But change is possible. We don’t have to get discouraged or frustrated. We can change our attitudes and practices—and make a lasting difference.

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