As a woman religious, I am proud that members of my American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) have made a strong commitment to help reduce climate change. So, too, have the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM). They represent a majority of women and men religious in the United States. This is not new for these groups, as members and institutions have taken many positive steps over past years. The recent statements from these groups highlight the urgency of reducing this increasingly dangerous reality.
We are far from singular in our commitment: many groups have pledged to respond to this peril. (Let us know in Comments if your church/synagogue or other group has done so.) The People’s Climate March September 21st is another way many will express their commitment to reducing climate change.
The SHCJ, called by our foundress Cornelia Connelly to “meet the needs of our age,” has already
taken steps to reduce our personal and corporate carbon footprints. (For example, we have transitioned to renewable energy.) We recently strongly agreed to the following statement:
We, the Sisters of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, compelled by the gospel and by our mission to help others believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, are concerned for all of God’s creation including our sisters and brothers everywhere. We accept scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is caused in great part by human activity. Earth, which reflects God’s glory, is in great peril. Therefore, we publicly state our commitment by taking action to help reduce this danger.
SHCJ Action Steps
We pledge to be aware and pray over recent scientific reports and Church statements and to invite family, friends and colleagues to join with us.
We urge our government officials to join the world community to enact legislation which will reduce the emissions of global greenhouse gas and support clean energy. We give authorization to our province Leadership Team to act in our regard in this regard.
We commit ourselves to reduce carbon emissions by our activities and life styles so that all God’s people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, will not suffer the devastating consequences of climate change. We recognize that what we do to earth, we do to ourselves. Therefore, as Holy Child Sisters we commit ourselves to support ALL life on Earth.
LCWR and CMSM
LCWR represent more than 86,000 (about 80%) of the country’s Catholic sisters, while CMSM represents US leaders of orders of Catholic priests and brothers. Media often highlights the complex relationship between the Vatican and the sisters — and that is news. But not to be missed is the sisters’ commitment to the issues they feel called to address.
Meeting together August 1-4, 2014, LCWR and CMSM leaders issued a joint resolution calling their members to work for action on climate change. The two conferences resolved to seek concrete ways to curb environmental degradation, mitigate its impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people, and restore right relationships among all God’s creation; and to foster a consciousness of care for God’s creation among all our members, colleagues, institutions and those whom we serve.
The leaders noted that the increase in temperature on the earth will likely have wide-spread consequences, from mass extinctions to devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable human beings.
Meeting later in August, the LCWR membership passed a more focused resolution to promote the national transition from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable energy sources as soon as possible.
Other Congregations Take Action
The Franciscan Sisters of Mary have made the decision to divest from fossil fuel production and invest in entrepreneurs and companies that promote clean, sustainable energy solutions. For more information, see the press release: http://www.fsmonline.org/news/article/582
People’s Climate March
The People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21st, will see hundreds of thousands of people show their commitment to reducing global warming and the harm it is already causing, especially to poor people and other species throughout the world. Marchers, and those throughout the country who will be praying and taking local action, hope they will influence participants at the UN Climate Summit on September 23.
The sisters appreciate the support given by people concerned about the situation with the Vatican, and we appreciate prayers for its positive resolution. We also appreciate, and hope to engender, support for issues we consider most vital: care of creation and the interconnected concern for people suffering from poverty, trafficking, violence, and injustice.
What could happen if a groundswell of US citizens, including politicians, recognized the religious, economic, and political advantages of taking action to reduce global warming? What is your vision?