This is one of those posts I almost dread to write. The reason I say almost is because I have come to peace with my understanding of global climate change. The reason I feel a hint of dread is because of how the people I know who live in Wisconsin will react to this post.
These past three weeks, we have experience wind chills that have dropped to -51 degrees Fahrenheit, multiple snow storms that shut down local schools for days at a time, and so much cloud cover that those with seasonal affect disorder are going a little nutty. Am I simply complaining about the weather as many in the Midwest United States enjoy doing? Perhaps. However, my primary reason for reflecting on this is because NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office, and the World Meteorological Organization have found that 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record. After reading the reports, I have no problem embracing these findings. For many I know in Wisconsin, I’m sure I’ll be greeted with, “Hey Father, I read your post on climate change. So, I’ve got this bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you!”
World Meteorological Organization Findings
United Kingdom Met Office Findings
There are many things that can and will be said about this data. Some will find enough information to argue against the adverse effects of climate change while others will find information to say global warming is so bad that all is lost. Regardless of what the interpretation of this data will be, for or against global warming, as Catholics, it wont change the fact that a foundational part of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is to protect the environment.
I must admit that Care for Creation has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my priesthood both personally and ministerial. On a personal level, I struggle to shake my own apathy to embrace care for creation. I have made many good steps, but I know I have a long way to go to embrace every aspect of care for creation within my own ability. In regard to the ministerial dimension of care for creation, it has been difficult, dare I say nearly impossible, to stir a communal ethos to take care for creation seriously. I find hope in many individuals, primarily my former students, who are passionate about sustainability. However, finding a vision in which most people can embrace remains elusive in my ministry.
Discussion: How can the Catholic Church, both locally and universally, do a better job to develop an ethos to inspire people to care for creation? Is there something the Church is missing in the discussion that could help show the importance of caring for our common home? Share your thoughts and, together, let us pray that all people see the importance of care for creation, regardless of climate data. May we see, as have our last few Popes, that care for creation is foundational for human rights and peace in our world.