My letter to Cardinal Justin Rigali

Dear brother Cardinals, women, and lay Catholics,

Laudato Si’, Our Laudato Si’ Address on Climate Change brought me to tears. Pope Francis not only hit the mark, he made me believe what I feel I ought to know. He gave me an incentive to be more cognizant of our small role in nature as a whole, or each of us, as individuals, as family members, as church members.

While we are all witness to the effects of climate change, it is not coming from nature but from our action, our consumption of the Earth. Not for us, not for our children and grandchildren. It is not coming from a lack of faith, but our acting on our own faith. The essential message is clear: if we are going to be around, we are going to better adapt to the new environment that is changing, so that we become the children and grandchildren of this earth. Our children and grandchildren of the earth, each of them, and us, the family of the church.

We are sent by the Lord to care for and sustain the earth for its future, for the benefit of all. But we continue to suffer from our selfishness and blindness. We do not realize, despite reports to the contrary, that it is not only the climate which is changing but also our minds and hearts. We may be blind in that we do not take the possibility of climate change seriously enough.

But this does not stop us from acting irresponsibly. On the contrary, we are aware of the consequences of our environment, but are unable to change our behavior in a manner which serves our common life. It is up to us, especially those who are in power, and to the good stewards of this earth, to act, and not just wait for the consequences to be unavoidable. We are in the creation of this world, and we are all responsible for it. We cannot wait for other people to act on our behalf. We cannot depend on others to protect us; we must take care of our own wellbeing.

I am writing to you to gather all possible facts from you, my brothers, what it means for your ministry of mercy in the church. But, perhaps more than that, I am seeking greater information on the environment from you. What is the situation? Are you aware of it? What happens to the material and spiritual environments in which we live? What kind of impact on the environment do you experience, and what are your options in protecting our God-given home?

My dear brothers, I want you to know that I have heard about Attorney General Becerra’s meeting last week with the president of the World Meteorological Organization, and were extremely grateful to have the opportunity to listen to him. I have had discussions with him to see what the church’s role is in this debate. I have been encouraged by the AG’s openness to our particular contributions.

I would like to hear a little more from you on this, but you have a great deal to tell me. Please respond immediately and tell me exactly what you want to say. If we can communicate a little better, we will have a clearer picture of what’s happening in California and around the world, and how we can be involved in doing something about it.

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