At the USCCB on October 20, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the USCCB Environmental Justice Program hosted a gathering of national Catholic leaders, entitled Let Us Be Protectors of Creation: Reducing Carbon Pollution to Protect Human Life and Dignity. This was an excellent opportunity for the Catholic community to examine the EPA’s proposed carbon emission standards and identify ways to positively contribute to the ongoing debate and discussions. Archbishop Wenski provided the keynote address. These are the opening paragraphs of Archbishop Wenski’s talk, published in the most recent issue of Origins.
I am happy to be with you, Catholic leaders and public health officials, to share a day of reflection and conversation on stewardship of the environment and the proposed carbon standards. I thank you for the warm reception and your willingness to be here and participate today.
I would like to begin my remarks, and perhaps give some structure to our time, by taking note of an important and common thread for most of us gathered together here. We have chosen to come at the issue of stewardship of the environment from a Catholic perspective. Many of your groups claim an affiliation with our faith, and some of us are explicitly charged with carrying out this work on behalf of the Church. All of us seem to recognize something of importance in a Catholic connection.
If this identification with Catholicism means anything for us, we must ask ourselves what that meaning should be. Plenty of organizations advocate for environmental issues; there are no shortage of educational programs and interest groups talking about the environment and climate change. To qualify our work as something “Catholic” is to—consciously or not—draw in something unique about our place in the dialogue.
If this is true – and I think it is – then my reflection this afternoon will benefit by an examination of that unique contribution. Indeed, this will serve as the first main theme for our conversation today. From this foundation, I then want to place our dialogue about climate change and the proposed carbon standards within that framework, the framework of a faith-infused approach to stewardship of the environment.