By Mary Anna Mancuso, RepublicEn.org
You can’t get much closer to God than the pope.
As a practicing Catholic, I and those who share my faith believe wholeheartedly that God entrusted us to be stewards of His creation, Earth. That care extends to caring for not only the only home we have until we hopefully ascend, but those around us in need.
We are failing on both counts, which is why I support the pope’s recent admonishment on the climate crisis.
For those who missed it, Pope Francis published his apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, building on his May 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and addressed to all “to all people of good will on the climate crisis”
I take that call seriously.
In Laudate Deum, Pope Francis did not mince words, noting that the world is “nearing a breaking point,” condemning climate denial and calling for urgent climate action. While the message in Laudate Deum is universal, it carries particular significance for Catholics living in countries with a high carbon footprint, such as here in the United States where emissions per individual are about two times greater than individuals living in China, and seven times greater than the average poorest country in the world.
While we are no longer the highest global emitter annually, historically we are, and we are certainly the ones who kicked off the crisis with our insatiable thirst for fossil fuels. No shame in past moves to industrialize our nation, but we know better now and we have options. If only we would lean into them more, as Pope Francis is calling on us to do. Imagine the impact 61.2 million Catholics in America could have if they leaned in?
It is not far-fetched to believe if both Catholics and non-Catholics in the U.S. heed the pope’s call to action by implementing small personal changes to their lifestyle such as driving less, avoiding single-use plastics and considering renewable energy if that is in our budget, there would be a significant long-term impact on the global climate crisis. Even more if we could rid the federal books of outdated subsidies that were intended to kick-start the oil and gas industry, not provide sweet tax relief to what is now an established, lucrative industry.
Caring for the environment is not a partisan issue, rather as Catholics, it is an issue of our faith. Laudate Deum makes clear that caring for the environment is integral to our faith, a faith rooted in principles of love, compassion and stewardship. These values guide us toward a profound understanding of our responsibility to care for God’s creation and should compel us to lead the way in reducing emissions and advocating for climate action.
Our duty is not just to reduce our carbon footprint, but to use our influence to call for systemic change. We are called on to be agents of change, ensuring our actions reflect our faith and commitment to protecting the planet.
Furthermore, as even a lapsed Catholic can attest, our faith teaches us to love our neighbors and protect the vulnerable, and this extends to the vulnerable ecosystems and species threatened by climate change. As Catholics, we understand that our actions have a ripple effect, affecting not only the environment but also the lives of those who are most at risk from its consequences.
Pope Francis’ Laudate Deum stands as a powerful and unifying call to combat the climate crisis. For Catholics, this is not merely an issue of morality, but a fundamental tenet of our faith.
By uniting in our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, demanding systemic changes and wholeheartedly embracing our role as guardians of God’s creation, we can play a vital part in the global mission to address climate change. Laudate Deum reminds us that our faith calls us to be the champions our world so desperately needs.
Catholics, let us honor God’s creation by heeding His Holiness’s call.
Mary Anna Mancuso is a political strategist and a spokesperson for RepublicEn.org, a growing group of conservatives who care about climate change.