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Catholic groups decry president’s climate decision

09 Climate PAGELeft, President Trump at the White House on June 1 announcing that the U.S. will exit from the Paris climate pact. Right, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on June 2 delivering a statement about the decision. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters) (CNS photo/Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters)

June 8, 2017 Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON – Catholic leaders said President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement snubs the needs of impoverished people around the world and eschews responsibility to begin addressing the causes of global warming.

They joined a broad cross section of U.S. society and world leaders and organizations in decrying the June 1 announcement.

Trump’s decision sets in motion a long formal process for withdrawal from the agreement, which entered into force Nov. 4. Under rules of the agreement, no nation can withdraw until November 2019 and mandate a one-year notice period. The earlier total withdrawal can be accomplished is in November 2020.

The leaders focused their concerns on the needs of communities around the world that they say contribute least to climate change but suffer the most from it. They pointed to impoverished people who have been forced to migrate to other lands to make a living because of drought, changing weather patterns or rising sea levels.

Many organizations pointed to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” in which he called all people to respect God’s creation and remember that the welfare of each person is integral to human life and future of the planet.

A statement from the leaders of 11 organizations asked Trump to reconsider his action. The leaders said Catholic teaching maintains that climate change is a “grave moral issue” that threatens commitments to protect human life, health, dignity and security, promote the common good, exercise a preferential option for the poor, living in solidarity with future generations, realize peace and care for creation.

“The international agreement of 2015 demonstrates that all nations will be impacted by a warming world and that all nations have a corresponding responsibility to limit greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change,” said a statement released through the Catholic Climate Covenant soon after Trump’s announcement. “The Catholic Church recognizes that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions.”

The signers included leaders of Catholic Climate Covenant, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Franciscan Action Network, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Global Catholic Climate Movement, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, National Council of Catholic Women, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, Carmelite NGO and Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, called Trump’s decision “deeply troubling.”

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values,” Bishop Cantu said in a statement released shortly after the president made his announcement in the White House Rose Garden. “President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities.”

Below are excerpts of statements from other Catholic organizations:

– Tomas Insua, executive director, Global Catholic Climate Movement: “Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement is a backward and immoral action. Catholics are saddened and outraged that Trump is not listening to Pope Francis after their meeting last week. Still, the world will continue to accelerate climate action despite the White House’s retrograde stance.”

– Sister Patricia Chappell, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, executive director, Pax Christi USA: “The biblical mandate to care and tend to the earth for its people transcends individual countries and nations. Today’s decision makes a mockery of democracy and Pax Christi USA pledges to use every nonviolent means in joining with others to resist this decision.”

– General Council, Adrian Dominican Sisters: “It diminishes our standing as a world leader, aligning us with Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories to the landmark accord ... . It blunts our competitive edge in an emerging renewable energy based global economy. And it threatens to condemn earth, our common home, and future generations to potentially catastrophic climate change.”

– Steve Krueger, president, Catholic Democrats: “While representing his only apparent train of thought as a deal maker, President Trump once again ignored Jesus’ exhortation (Luke 12:48) best paraphrased by President John F. Kennedy, that ‘for those to whom much is given, much is required.’ We believe that this applies to nations as well, particularly given the fact that the U.S. is the largest carbon polluter in history.”

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