June 18, 2018 — Nearly 600 U.S. Catholic organizations, including the Midwest Province Jesuits, declared that they are “still in” to support the Paris Agreement on the third anniversary of the release of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.
More than 80 U.S. Jesuit institutions were among those to sign on to the Catholic Climate Declaration, which responds to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. The declaration, which affirms the commitment of U.S. Catholic institutions to stand by the Paris Agreement and help meet its goals, was organized by Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC) and its partner members, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, as well as the five U.S. Jesuit provinces were among those to sign on. Other U.S. Jesuit apostolates to sign it included 22 Jesuit colleges and universities; 16 Jesuit high schools; 13 Jesuit parishes; 12 Jesuit communities; the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; the Jesuit Schools Network; Jesuit Refugee Service/USA; and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. This included many Midwest Province apostolates, including Creighton University; Loyola University Chicago; John Carroll University; Xavier University; the Jesuit Novitiate of Alberto Hurtado in St. Paul, Minnesota; Church of the Gesu in University Heights, Ohio; Chicago Jesuit Academy; Creighton Prep High School; Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago; Loyola Academy; Loyola High School in Detroit; and Marquette University High School. A full list of signers is here.
“We're very excited the Jesuit Conference, as well as all of the U.S. Jesuit provinces and so many institutions in our network, have joined Catholic leaders in signing this Catholic Climate Declaration affirming their support and commitment to climate action through the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Cecilia Calvo, senior advisor on environmental justice for the Jesuit Conference’s Office of Justice and Ecology. “We know U.S. leadership and urgent action is needed to protect our common home, human life and dignity, and poor and vulnerable people hardest hit by climate change.”
Fordham University was another of the Jesuit institutions to sign the declaration. Jesuit Father Joseph M. McShane, president, said, “There are few issues as consequential for the human family — and indeed life on Earth — as combating climate change.” Fr. McShane said that signing it signals the “university’s intellectual and moral support for actions that will help determine the fates of billions of people. The need is urgent, and the time is now.”
Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines and the bishop liaison to CCC, said, “The immorality of inaction on climate change has been clear for a long time. With ever-increasing temperatures fueling super hurricanes as well as extending and deepening droughts, we are seeing the tragedies of inaction up close and personal.”
Sister Sharlet Wagner, CSC, president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), noted that climate change is not a political issue but a moral one. “God’s creation is in peril by our own actions. Yet we know it is a gift for us to enjoy, safeguard, and protect for future generations.” [Sources: Catholic Climate Covenant, NCR]