The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples.
--Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, January 1, 1990
DIOCESAN AND STATE ACTIVITIES
Working through the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a grant application has been submitted to help train local Catholic leaders in the Churchs social teaching on the environment. Specifically, the grant seeks to help dioceses and Catholic universities plan and implement joint training programs. The grant would also help fund special training programs for priests, seminarians and deacons on Catholic social teaching in general, including teaching on the environment. In addition, efforts are underway to determine the feasibility of securing a new comprehensive grant to help fund general diocesan and national Catholic organizational activities that address a range of concerns including environmental justice, farmworkers, urban sprawl and public environmental health. The Department has received twenty-one requests for proposals from the dioceses and national Catholic organizations.
CHILDRENS HEALTH & THE ENVIRONMENT
The Catholic Coalition for Children's Health and a Safe Environment (CASE), a coalition of major national Catholic organizations, is engaged in a wide variety of activities including:
- Environmental Responsibility and the Health Care Ministry, a primer on environmental issues for Catholic health care.
- Ensuring a Healthy and Safe Environment, a web resource for Catholic schools.
- A year-long NCCW education project on environmental health issues affecting children in 10 dioceses (Belleville, IL; Charleston, SC; Harrisburg, PA; Fall River, MA; Galveston/Houston, TX; Great Falls/Billings, MT; Green Bay, WI; Knoxville, TN; Madison, WI; and Orange, CA).
- Protegiendo Nuestro Futuro (Protecting Our Future), the National Catholic Rural Life Conferences Spanish-language campaign to train and educate farmworkers about health threats from agricultural pesticides. Spanish-language PSAs, information capsules, mini-dramas and a radio talk show have promoted parish classes in the Diocese of Yakima.
- Struggles for Environmental Justice and Health in Chicago, an African American and Catholic Perspective on environmental justice and health. A new grant has been approved for the development of an educational video and website. The program has recently completed an updated packet on childrens health and the environment.
On May 19, Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Ricard jointly signed with other major religious leaders and noted scientists a statement calling for increased action to address the issue of climate change. On July 6, they sent a letter to members of the Senate urging them to seriously consider legislation that would help offset the impacts of climate change, particularly as it affects the poor. The Conference is currently seeking specific measures in climate change legislation that would address the needs of the poor.
On June 29, a letter was sent to the Environmental Protection Agency to urge stricter regulatory measures to address hazardous air pollution, particularly its impacts on children, pregnant women and the unborn. The letter was signed by a number of Catholic organizations including the Catholic Health Association, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the National Council of Catholic Women, the National Catholic Educational Association and the Conference.
On January 13, 2005, the World Bank hosted a meeting of representatives from the religious community concerning global climate change. Because of the potential negative impact from climate change on so many of the poor around the world, representatives from the Orthodox, main line Protestant, Evangelicals and the Catholic Conference convened to explore some initial options for greater visible leadership by the religious community concerning this issue.
Catholic Scholars Consultation
The Conference co-sponsored with the University of St. Thomas a major and very successful consultation on Catholic theology and the environment. The consultation took place October 29-31 in Owatona, MN for 60 participants including Catholic academics from a wide variety of Catholic universities as well as representatives from a number of major national Catholic organizations. This consultation is part of a wider effort to encourage more Catholic academics and universities to explore this topic and to deepen the Catholic intellectual contribution. This consultation explored the themes of the human person in the environment, the common good and our responsibilities to the poor in caring for creation. Efforts are underway to develop a book and or other educational resources for use with the wider Catholic population.