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Pope Francis urges energy and oil executives to mitigate global warming, spare further injustice to poor

Conference with energy and oil executives was held around the 4th anniversary of publication of ‘Laudato Si’

A worker collected trash in a containment along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor June 11. Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” was widely lauded for its scope on the moral and ethical response to protecting Earth’s environment for future generations.
Photo Credits: Bob Roller | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Faced with a climate emergency, the world must act immediately to mitigate global warming and avoid committing “a brutal act of injustice” on the poor and future generations, Pope Francis told a group of energy and oil executives and global investors.

“Time is running out! Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done and concentrate on what needs to be done from today onward,” he said.

“We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires our decisive action, here and now,” he said June 14 at the Vatican.

The pope spoke to leaders taking part in a conference June 13-14 on “Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home,” sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

It was the second private meeting — the first was in June 2018 — aimed at dialogue with invited executives of leading energy, petroleum and natural gas companies, global investment firms, climate scholars and academics.

Organizers said that participants this year included CEOs from Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

Pope Francis thanked participants for returning for the second meeting, saying it was “a positive sign of your continued commitment to working together in a spirit of solidarity to promote concrete steps for the care of our planet.”

The dialogue was taking place during a “critical moment,” he said, because “today’s ecological crisis, especially climate change, threatens the very future of the human family, and this is no exaggeration.”

“For too long, we have collectively failed to listen to the fruits of scientific analysis and ‘doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain,’” he said, citing his encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” The encyclical was published in June 2015.

It would be grossly unfair for future generations to inherit “a greatly spoiled world,” the pope said. “Pardon me if I want to underline this: They, our children, our grandchildren, should not have to pay, it is not right that they pay the cost of our irresponsibility.”

All dialogue and action must be rooted in the best scientific research available today, he said, pointing particularly to last year’s special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“That report clearly warns that effects on the climate will be catastrophic if we cross the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius” above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement goal, the pope said.

The report, which outlined detailed ways to limit global warming, warned that “only one decade or so remains in order to achieve this confinement of global warming,” he added.

“Faced with a climate emergency,” the pope said, “we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations. We must take responsible actions bearing in mind their impact in the short and in the long term.”

Recognizing that “civilization requires energy,” he said that it is also important that energy use not destroy civilization.

“A radical energy transition is needed to save our common home,” he said, and the Catholic Church was “fully committed to playing her part.”

“There is still hope and there remains time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, provided there is prompt and resolute action,” he said.


Arizona high school integrates ‘Laudato Si’ in all aspects of curriculum

By Mark Pattison | Catholic News Service

Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona, run by the Carmelite Sisters, calls itself “a Laudato Si’ high school.” At the request of Carmelite Sister Jane Remson, a participant in her order’s Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation program in Rome, teachers adapted the encyclical into lesson plans — the low-hanging fruit of religion and science classes, but after two years, it had infused “Laudato Si’” into all parts of its curriculum. It also started thinking, and rethinking, how to make “Laudato Si’” relevant in the school’s life outside the classroom.

Sister Remson is also part of the team that has met each year for the past six years writing a handbook on how to introduce justice and peace chapters for Carmelite-staffed parishes and Carmelite-led organizations.

Sister Remson also recalls one meeting of her team before 2015, when a priest addressed them detailing the encyclical’s development and his role in it. “I thought, ‘This is so comprehensive. We’ve got to get this to young people so they can build their faith around this,” she said. “Not just in a religion class or in a science class where they can teach it, but we need it to permeate the entire curriculum of the school.”

Thus was the seed germinated for the “Laudato Si’” curriculum.

Loretto Sister Helen Timothy, Salpointe’s principal, said faculty started working on the curriculum that January and were finished by July.

“It is a curriculum that touches every area of academics at the secondary level. It is all designed around themes of ‘Laudato Si’,’” she said. “It is designed in such a way that it can be part of current lesson plans that are used in school”; by doing that, schools don’t have to buy new textbooks to teach the principles found in “Laudato Si.’”

She added, “We’re trying to effect change in students here who are age 14 to 18. We have agreed that for the next three years, our theme for the school is ‘Care for Our Common Home.’”

Being a “Laudato Si’” school can come in handy in some of the most unexpected ways.

On the school’s Google spreadsheet, which was shared with Catholic News Service, one teacher said, “I have reduced my paper consumption dramatically by putting all assignments on Google Classroom for students to view rather than printing. I have also asked that students use ALL of the surface area for each sheet of paper turned in to me to help reduce paper consumption in that area.”

Another teacher wrote of a financial literacy lesson connecting a TED talk on “What Consumers Want” with “good habits of money management,” and tying Pope Francis’ comments on consumerism in the encyclical — “moderation and capacity to be happy with less” — and “compulsive consumerism,” in which the pontiff wrote: “The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.”

Sister Remson said she does not know precisely how many schools have used the Carmelites’ “Laudato Si’” curriculum, just the countries that have accessed it, including the United States, Peru, and several in Europe.

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