One-Liner Wednesday: climate

“Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 23
(With the Paris climate talks underway, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/02/one-liner-wednesday-they-lied/

Advent, mercy, and climate action

“…and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

I was struck by this passage from Luke chapter 21 this morning at church as we begin the new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. Every day there is news on television of some severe weather disaster, whether it is hurricane/typhoon, flood, tornado, drought, heat wave, landslide, ice storm, or blizzard. I am also acutely aware that the nations are gathering in Paris to begin the climate talks which are our best hope to avert the worst level of climate change which would destroy major ecosystems, cause extinction of many species, and kill millions and millions of people.

I realize that sounds very apocalyptic, but these are the effects that science indicates would happen under a “business as usual” scenario regarding the continued burning of fossil fuels.

This afternoon, I attended an event in solidarity with climate activists around the world in preparation for the Paris talks. We were sharing what brought us together and I said that during my years of writing commentary against fracking, while using science and economics in my arguments, I was energized by the moral and ethical grounding that I received from Catholic social justice doctrine, which teaches care for creation and upholding the dignity of each person. I thanked Pope Francis for his encyclical which is addressed not only to Catholics but to all people of good will, which makes clear that we must care for the world and for each other. Francis calls this “integral ecology.”

We do need systemic change and Paris has to be the start of it. Like the wounded-yet-strong city of Paris, the wounded-yet-strong earth needs our love, care, and attention. All the species of the earth need each other to survive and thrive. All the people of the earth bear responsibility for their neighbors, with those with the largest share of the gifts bearing the most responsibility to help those who are most vulnerable.

On December eighth, Pope Francis will open a Jubilee year dedicated to mercy. This is a particularly powerful symbol at this time. The works of mercy include such actions as feeding the hungry and comforting the afflicted. In the letter declaring the Jubilee, Francis writes  of “the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one.” We are called to exclude no one on earth from our love and care at the precise moment when we are facing the challenge of climate change.

The United States and the European nations that have contributed the largest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions must bear the most responsibility as we move forward. Besides making our own rapid shift to renewable energy, we must help less developed nations build their own renewable energy capacity to help and protect their people and environment, as well as extend assistance and welcome to climate refugees.

Today’s reading from the third chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians begins, “Brothers and sisters:  May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…”  May we all, those who believe in divinity and those who do not, join in an advent of love and mercy to heal our societies and our planet.

It must begin. Now.

One-Liner Wednesday: motivation

“Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 200
(In preparation for the upcoming Paris climate talks, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/11/25/one-liner-wednesday-living/

One-Liner Wednesday: environmental education

“Whereas in the beginning it [environmental education] was mainly centered on scientific information, consciousness-raising and the prevention of environmental risks, it tends now to include a critique of the ‘myths’ of a modernity grounded in a utilitarian mindset (individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, the unregulated market).”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 210
(In preparation for the upcoming Paris climate talks, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/11/11/one-liner-wednesday-a-cup-of-cheer/

One-Liner Wednesday: love in action

“For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 58
(In recognition of the ongoing Paris climate talks, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/09/one-liner-wednesday-escape/

One-Liner Wednesday: environmental justice

“Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 49
(In preparation for the upcoming Paris climate talks, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/11/04/one-liner-wednesday-goosebums/

acceptance

On my way to church this morning, I heard a report on NPR about the fiftieth anniversary of the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate” which was a declaration on the relationship of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions. The report also reviewed the horrible treatment that the Catholic church had inflicted on other faiths, especially the Jewish people.

I am very grateful to have been born at a time when I do not remember the church being against other people because of their religious beliefs or lack of belief.  It saddens and upsets me that not all Catholics have accepted this now fifty-year-old teaching. This gives the impression that Catholics are still condemning others for not being Catholic or Christian, even though most of us do not. Rather, we accept all people of good will as together we strive for greater love and peace in the world.

One of my favorite things about Francis is that he shows this attitude to the world. He regularly meets with people of diverse faith traditions, agnostics, and atheists. He often prays in silence in settings that include people of many traditions so that he does not seem to be pushing Catholic prayer onto others. When he spoke in Washington on his recent trip to the United States, he asked the crowd and television viewers to pray for him or, if prayer was not part of their own belief system, to send positive thoughts.

People around the world recognize Francis as a spiritual leader, not just a Catholic leader, because he does care about every person and, as he terms it, “our common home.”  Although he was brought up in the pre-Vatican II church, he fully embraces and lives the council’s messages.

The message is needed now more than ever. There is so much to do to improve the lives of people and the planet. We, all people of good will, need to move forward together.

an open letter to Speaker Boehner

Dear Speaker Boehner,

Thank you for your service in what has become an increasingly untenable job.

I implore you in your remaining days as speaker to lead in a new direction. Please search through the Republicans in the House and identify those who want to govern, rather than obstruct.

Speak to House minority leader Pelosi about forming a governing coalition so that the legislation that the country and all of its people need passes, among these being a clean debt ceiling raise and a just budget, which puts human needs first.

Nancy Pelosi, as a former speaker, would be the natural choice to lead this new coalition, although another person outside of Congress would be a possibility.

The country cannot afford to be made ungovernable by a few dozen representatives who refuse to do their job, which is to govern for the good of the country, not just their district, not just the people within their district who voted for them.

Pope Francis eloquently called on the Congress to work together, in keeping with the ideals of our Constitution.

I know you believe these ideals and ask you to put the common good above partisan politics to craft a solution that will move the Congress and the nation out of its current dysfunction.

Sincerely,
Joanne Corey

a study in contrasts

This afternoon, I attended the first in a series of six sessions studying Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ (In Care of Our Common Home).  In a small group and then with the whole room, we had been discussing access to clean drinking water as a human right and how that right is denied to so many now, either through the mechanism of climate change or through inequitable distribution and use of water resources.

I was listening to the radio as I drove away and heard a story about how most McDonald’s restaurants are now serving breakfast all day, but, due to kitchen limitations, each had to decide whether to serve biscuit sandwiches or egg McMuffins as part of all day breakfast, as there wasn’t room for both.

The contrast was stark.

I wish that we were hearing more, speaking out more, and doing more about water rights, here in the United States and around the world, especially the access of those who have limited financial means. Also, climate issues, peacemaking, social justice, and global initiatives to end poverty.

Egg McMuffins versus sausage biscuits? Not so much.

On being a US Catholic in the days of Pope Francis

While the United States is a very pluralistic country, with its people following hundreds of different spiritual, religious, philosophical, or secular belief systems, seventy million of us consider ourselves to be Roman Catholic.

With Pope Francis travelling in the Northeastern United States these past few days, there has been extensive media coverage, with reporters and interviewees acknowledging that they are Catholic, which is often not brought up in journalism or entertainment here. It has been touching to hear US Catholics talk about their faith and to hear Francis reach out to all people, regardless of their belief in the Divine or not, in keeping with the meaning of the word “catholic” which is “universal.” It is heartening to hear so many respond in kind, saying, “I’m not Catholic but I want to see Francis and hear what he has to say.”

I am Catholic, but do not in any way promote my faith as being any better than another path. It is simply the path that has meaning to me and which is integrated into my being and through which I hope to live out Divine Love in the world. I believe that the vast majority of people are of good will and decry those few who misuse ideology to do violence to or oppress others. Sadly, there have been many instances in which the power structure of the Catholic church has sinned and been guilty of horrible crimes against entire ethnic groups or religions as well as individual persons. These are human failings and not a reflection of God who is good and always loving.

This visit from Pope Francis is a good opportunity to talk about the public perception of the Catholic church and the lived experience of being a US Catholic. People, even many Catholics themselves, think of the Catholic Church as being a set of beliefs and rules that must be adhered to uniformly to belong; much of the Catholic hierarchy has advanced that view in my lifetime, but it is not really what the church teaches. There are a core set of teachings called dogmas which must be accepted in order to be Catholic. These are God-related and articulated in important teachings such as the creed.

There are many other teachings, usually more centered on human activity. The most important of these are doctrines. Catholics are asked to believe these teachings, as well as other teachings at lesser levels of authority, but dissent is possible after considered study and reflection.

The Catholic Church believes in the primacy of conscience, which means that we are called to act in accord to our individual, well-formed conscience. We sin if we violate our conscience and damage our relationship with God and other people. Dissenting from a teaching or breaking a rule is not wrong if we are following our conscience, having seriously considered church teaching on the topic.

Probably the most common experience of this in the United States is dissent from Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which prohibited the use of artificial means of birth control while allowing natural ones. Even though a commission that studied the issue recommended that the church allow contraception, Paul VI was persuaded to continue prohibiting it. Since it was first promulgated in 1968, this teaching has not been accepted by the vast majority of US Catholics, who have the right and responsibility to follow their own consciences on this matter – and on the related issue of using fertility assistance, several means of which, such as artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization, are also against official Catholic teaching.

Another common misunderstanding is that divorced Catholics can’t receive communion. This isn’t true. The problem comes in when a Catholic who has a civil divorce remarries without an annulment from the church. (More misunderstandings arise over annulments. A Catholic annulment does not mean that there was no marriage; it means that there was a serious impediment to the marriage from the start so that it was not a sacramental marriage. If an annulment is granted, the individuals are then free to enter into a sacramental marriage with another spouse, but the first marriage is still recognized as a civil marriage. Some people are afraid to pursue an annulment because they think their children will then be considered born out of wedlock, but that is not the case.) The reason behind the prohibition against receiving communion in a second marriage without an annulment is that it is considered a public scandal to be living in adultery. So, yes, this is about sex. Someone who is living in a second marriage without an annulment but who is living what the church calls “a chaste life” can receive communion.

Yeah, the officialdom of the Catholic church doesn’t understand sexual behavior very well at all. Unfortunately, this has become an overwhelming focus and attempted means of control by the hierarchy in the United States and elsewhere. It is hopeful that Francis has changed the emphasis to larger human problems, like poverty, environmental degradation, war, violence, and failure to work for justice and the common good.

Francis has already endorsed some procedures to make annulments less cumbersome to obtain and there is hope for further reform. There is also the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will offer some other opportunities within the church. The larger impact, though, is Francis’s example of outreach, caring, and concern for all people and for creation. He will empower people toward justice, love, and peace, whether or not all the other bishops follow his lead.

We are taught that the church is the people of God. Some in the hierarchy have acted as though they themselves are the core of the church, more important than the millions upon millions of the laity.

With Francis, we may finally have the opportunity to be truly catholic, that is universal.