Climate: A Common Good
by Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” -- Pope Francis, “Laudato Si,” (23)
When representatives from Catholic organizations from around the world gathered in Rome in early May to coordinate a meaningful response to Pope Francis’ anticipated moral call to action on climate change, the voices calling out for attention extended well beyond the 40 people in the meeting room.
Catholic humanitarian assistance and development organizations brought with them stories of communities whose advances in reducing extreme poverty were wiped out by extreme weather events. Advocates from Africa worried aloud about how climate change will heighten food insecurity. Three Brazilian bishops lamented the destruction of “our home” and stressed the importance of building lifestyles around relationships with one another and with Earth instead of around individualism and consumerism.
As someone who works with the Sisters of Mercy, I carried in my heart the pleas for climate action by sisters in the Philippines who helped villagers rebuild after devastating typhoons veered off their usual course and caught communities off-guard. I also had in mind an Argentinian sister’s warnings about disappearing glaciers that downstream populations rely on for drinking and agriculture. And I was thinking of a sister in Micronesia who described how the rising ocean level was noticeably diminishing the size of some of the Pacific nation’s islands, forcing some residents to relocate.
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