Daily Meditations for April - The Global Catholic Climate Movement

Daily Meditations for the Month of April
on the Holy Father’s Intention to Pray for Creation
April 1. “A second key area where you are called to make a contribution is in showing concern for the
environment…You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of
Pope Francis Speech at Santo Tomas University, Manila (2015)
April 2. “The human family has received from the Creator a common gift: nature” for responsible
stewardship … Nature, in a word, is at our disposition and we are called to exercise a responsible
stewardship over it. Yet so often we are driven by greed and by the arrogance of dominion, possession,
manipulation and exploitation; we do not preserve nature; nor do we respect it or consider it a gracious
gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future
Message for The Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2013
April 3. “The promotion of human dignity is linked to the right to a healthy environment. St. Pope
John Paul II, “Respect for human rights: the secret of true peace” (1999). Earlier in his pontificate,
the Pope said, “In our day, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the
arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of
due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality
of life. (…) Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to
understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. (…) The gradual
depletion of the ozone layer and the related “greenhouse effect” has now reached crisis proportions as a
consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs… The
ecological crisis reveals the urgent moral need for a new solidarity, especially in relations between the
developing nations and those that are highly industrialized. (…) the earth and its atmosphere are telling
us…that there is an order in the universe which must be respected, and that the human person, endowed
with the capability of choosing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being
of future generations. I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue.”
St Pope John Paul II, Peace With God the Creator, Peace With All of Creation, 1990
April 4. New data compiled from a range of sources – from Navy submarines to satellites – suggests
that global warming and polar ice thinning is happening much faster than models have estimated,
according to a study aiming to link those disparate data sources for the first time. The University of
Washington calculated that in the central part of the Arctic Ocean basin, sea ice has thinned by 65% since
1975 (from 11 feet to 4 feet). That was nearly double the 36% decline that a previous study calculated
1 over the period from 1975-2000. During September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, ice
thickness is down by 85%. March 2015, The Guardian UK
April 5. Easter. “Creation is the primary and most perfect revelation of the Divine” Thomas Aquinas
Two thousand years ago was the human incarnation of God in Jesus, but before that there was the first
and original incarnation through light, water, land, sun, moon, stars, plants, trees, fruit, birds, serpents,
cattle, fish, and "every kind of wild beast" according to our own creation story (Genesis 1:3-25). This was
the "Cosmic Christ" through which God has "let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he
so kindly made from the beginning in Christ" (Ephesians 1:9). Christ is not Jesus' last name, but the title
for his life's purpose. Jesus is the very concrete truth revealing and standing in for the universal truth. As
Colossians puts it, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation" (1:15), he is the one
glorious part that names and reveals the even more glorious whole. "The fullness is founded in him ...
everything in heaven and everything on earth" (Colossians1:19-20). "The immense diversity and
pluriformity of this creation more perfectly represents God than any one creature alone or by itself," adds
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) in his Summa Theologica (47:1). Richard Rohr, OFM, Radical Grace,
April-May-June, Volume 23, Number 2, 2010.
April 6. Easter Monday. In response to Pope John Paul II's groundbreaking 1990 Message, Peace With
God the Creator, Peace With All of Creation, the full body of U.S. Catholic bishops adopted their first
statement on the environment, Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on
Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching. In this foundational statement the bishops draw
attention to the ethical dimensions of the ecological crisis, exploring the link between ecology and
poverty and the implications of environmental degradation for human life and dignity. Building on the
commitment made by the U.S. bishops in their 1991 statement Renewing the Earth, the Environmental
Justice Program (EJP) of the USCCB was created in 1993 to educate and motivate Catholics to a
deeper reverence and respect for God’s creation, and to encourage Catholics to address environmental
problems, particularly as they affect poor and vulnerable people. EJP acts as a resource for Catholic
dioceses and state Catholic conferences, and through them Catholic parishes. The US Catholic
Conference of Bishops letter to USEPA in 2014 “recognizes the importance of finding means to reduce
carbon pollution. These standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially children,
the elderly, as well as poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution emitted from power
plants and from the impacts of climate change.”
USCCB, US Bishops Urge Action on Carbon Pollution to Stem Climate Change
April 7. “Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the
beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”, and its preservation has now become essential
for the peaceful coexistence of mankind… Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated
with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast
agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural
catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing
phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural
habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties
of forced displacement? (…) A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future
generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources… The Church
has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public
life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all
to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction.”
Pope Benedict XVI, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation” (2010)
April 8. “In view of the threatening [climate] catastrophe, there is the recognition everywhere that
we must make moral decisions. There is also a more or less a pronounced awareness of a global
2 responsibility for it; that ethics must no longer refer merely to one’s own group or one’s own nation, but
rather must keep the earth and all people in view. The question is therefore: How can the great moral will,
which everybody affirms and everyone invokes, become a personal decision? For unless that happens,
politics remains impotent. Who, therefore can ensure that this general awareness also penetrates the
personal sphere? This can be done only by an authority that touches the conscience that is close to the
individual and does not merely call for eye-catching events. In that respect this is a challenge for the
Church. She not only has a major responsibility; she is, I would say, often the only hope. For she is so
close to peoples consciences that she can move them to particular acts of self-denial and can inculcate
basic attitudes in souls. Pope Benedict, Light of the World: Church & the Signs of the Times, (2010)
April 9. “We are people of hope,” the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines wrote in their
Pastoral Letter on Ecology. ‘‘Today, too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and
to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every
woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of
light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians,
like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has
opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.’’
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Pastoral Letter on Ecology (1998)
April 10. Conversations about the climate crisis have historically been more about intellectual
arguments than about the profound spiritual and moral implications of our failure to care for
God’s creation. Catholic leaders are thus called to speak with a prophetic voice and in a spiritual
dialogue with all people, especially those political and business leaders and consumers who engage in
climatically destructive policies and practices. And we recognize our own need for ongoing conversion to
live more in keeping with the Creator’s intentions for life in abundance for all people…Calling on our
brothers and sisters in Christ to defend the common good by acknowledging those least able to defend
themselves—the world’s people living in poverty, our children, born and unborn, future generations, and
all forms of life that populate God’s creation…Knowing that there are abundant positive solutions
available, we offer to assist those voices that demand strong international climate agreements, as well as
call for and encourage the conversion of hardened hearts. We invite all Catholics to explore the issues of
climate change and to join future actions—both to raise awareness about this important issue and to act
within the public sphere. And finally we entrust all our efforts to Jesus Christ, who makes all things new.
Global Catholic Climate Movement signatories.
April 11. There is a responsibility to nurture the Earth, to nurture Creation, to keep it and make it
grow according to its laws. A Christian who does not protect Creation, who does not let it grow, is a
Christian who does not care about the work of God, that work that was born from the love of God for us.
And this is the first response to the first creation: protect creation, make it grow. "
Pope Francis, Holy Mass, 19 February 2015 homily at Casa Santa Marta
April 12. ”Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular
attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family. No nation or
business sector can ignore the ethical implications present in all economic and social development. With
increasing clarity scientific research demonstrates that the impact of human actions in any one place or
region can have worldwide effects. The consequences of disregard for the environment cannot be limited
to an immediate area or populus because they always harm human coexistence, and thus betray human
dignity and violate the rights of citizens who desire to live in a safe environment.”
Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on the Occasion
of the Seventh Symposium of the Religion, Science and the Environment Movement (2007)
3 April 13. Peace is not something which can be bought; it is a gift to be sought patiently and to be
“crafted” through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is
strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we
never forget that we have the same heavenly Father.”
Pope Francis, Holy Mass, 24 May 2014
"All men and women of goodwill: let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in
nature, protectors of one another and of the environment." Pope Francis, Inauguration, 19 March 2013
April 14: “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility
towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. (…) There is a
pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries
and those that are highly industrialized. The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their
domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater
ecological sensitivity among their citizens. It should be added that at present it is possible to achieve
improved energy efficiency while at the same time encouraging research into alternative forms of
energy… It is likewise incumbent upon the competent authorities to make every effort to ensure that the
economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency
and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations: the protection of the
environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly and to show a
readiness to work in good faith…The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert
this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts
of creation that belong to everyone.” Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Encyclical Caritas in Veritate (2009)
April 15. The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit… allows us to grasp, through Creation,
the greatness and love of God and His profound relationship with every creature. When our eyes
are enlightened by the Spirit, they open to the contemplation of God in the beauty of nature and the
grandeur of the cosmos, and lead us to discover how everything speaks to us of Him and everything
speaks to us of His love. The first chapter of Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible, shows us that
God delights of His creation, by repeatedly emphasizing the beauty and goodness of all things. At the
end of each day, it is written: "God saw that it was good" (1, ) …but if God sees that Creation
is something good and beautiful, we too must have this attitude, we must see that Creation is something
good and beautiful.” The gift of knowledge, of this beauty, we have to thank God for having given us this
gift, this beauty! This is the path…and when God finished creating man, He didn’t say that “it was good”,
He said that it is “very good!” He draws us close to Him. Pope Francis, 21 May 2014, Vatican Radio
April 16. Parishes from Kenya to India to San Diego, California are responding to the Holy
Father’s call for personal responsibility to care for creation by generating solar power on-site. At
St. Patrick’s in San Diego, Father Michael McFadden, the priest at St. Patrick, notes “We have to work
together so that it is a viable planet. I believe that God is saying, ‘Please take care of it. It’s fragile.” But,
of course, the church and the school it run will save money on electricity in the long term. Furthermore,
the solar arrays provide an educational resource for students at the parish school: Father McFadden added
“The second reason solar made so much sense for us is that it will, in the short and long run, help the
School and help the Parish, which I believe are joined at the hip.” Sullivan Solar will support these
efforts, working specifically with the kindergarten class and middle school students to educate them about
solar power.
April 17. The Philippines have many coastal cities that are vulnerable to natural disasters and rising
sea levels. In late 2014 Filipinos conducted a 40-day climate awareness walk from Manila to Tacloban,
which was decimated by Typhoon Haiyan a year earlier, leaving 7,300 dead or missing and hundreds of
thousands of people homeless. “(Climate change) is not merely an environmental problem, it is a moral
problem,” said Yeb Sano, a Catholic and a member of the Philippine Climate Change Commission.
4 April 18. “With the gift of knowledge, the Spirit leads us to grasp the value and beauty of people
and the realities that surround us, but also their limitations”, we must nurture these beautiful things that
God has given us. Creation is for us to use well, not exploit to nurture…the way is often hard-going, it is
not easy. … Yet, always keep this in your thoughts: do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid of falling.
In the art of walking it is not falling that matters, but not ‘staying fallen.’ Get up quickly, immediately,
and continue to go on. And this is beautiful: it is working every day, it is walking humanly. But also, it is
terrible to walk alone, terrible and tedious. Walking in community, with friends, with those who love us:
this helps us, it helps us to arrive precisely at the destination where we must arrive.” -- Pope Francis,
Address to students of the Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania, Paul VI Audience Hall, June 7, 2013
April 19. In 2013, Asian Bishops outlined the Church’s Response to Climate Change: As Church
we are challenged by this grave situation since climate change is an ethical, moral and religious issue (and
we are)… not deterred from issuing a clarion call. We cannot but raise our voice on behalf of those people
most impacted by climate change. Our voice must be matched by choices both at personal level as
Christians as well as at ecclesial level as communities. In order to respond as Church we need to identify
certain priorities: A part of our prophetic task is to promote critical reflection…We must promote a new
consciousness that the climate change issue is both a justice issue and a religious issue. We must help
people recognize that the result of our actions is against God’s commandment not to steal from future
generations… The outreach of the Church to civil society should aim at awakening public opinion to the
disastrous consequences of climate change in order to encourage sustainable lifestyles and to promote a
paradigm of focussing on ‘being’ rather than merely on ‘having’ coincident with long-established Asian
cultural values and sensitivities. The need of the hour is to live an eco-spirituality in tune with the Word
of God, a spirituality marked by action on behalf of the exploited poor and the exploited nature. We must
advocate and promote policies and programmes of renewable energy from solar power, water, biomass
and wind.
April 20. The Pope on Prayer. “Counsel, then, is the gift by which the Holy Spirit makes our
conscience capable of making a concrete choice in communion with God, according to the logic of
Jesus and of his Gospel. In this way, the Spirit helps us grow inwardly, helps us grow positively, helps
us grow in communion and helps us to avoid being at the mercy of selfishness and our own way of seeing
things. This is how the Spirit helps us grow and also live in communion.” “In intimacy with God and
listening to His Word slowly we put aside our personal logic, dictated most of the time by our closure, our
prejudices and our ambitions, and instead learn to ask the Lord, what is your wish?” “Prayer, praying is so
important. Praying those prayers that we all know from childhood but also praying with our words,
praying to the Lord: ‘Lord, help me, advise me, what should I do now?’ With prayer we make room for
the Spirit to come and help us in that moment, he advises us all on what we must do. Prayer, never forget
prayer, never. Nobody notices when we pray on the bus, on the streets, we pray in silence, with our
hearts, take advantage of these moments to pray. Pray for the Spirit to give us this gift of counsel…It is
the Spirit who counsels us but we have to make room for the Spirit to give us counsel and give space to
prayer, prayer for Him to come and always help us. The Lord speaks to us not only in the intimacy of our
heart, - He speaks to us, yes, but not only there - but also through the voice and the testimony of others. It
really is a great gift to meet the men and women of faith who, especially in the most complicated and
important moments of our lives, help us to shed light in our hearts and recognize the will of the Lord.”
Pope Francis, General Audience, 2014.
April 21. “Effective measures to address climate change are urgent and necessary. Evidence
continues to point toward significant damaging impacts from climate related events in the United States,
across the globe, and particularly for the poorest developing countries. Some poor nations and small
island states already experience these impacts as a matter of survival for their people and cultures.1
People living in poverty in communities served by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) already suffer the
tragic consequences of climate change. Increasingly limited access to water, reduced crop yields, more
5 widespread disease, and increased frequency and intensity of droughts and storms all make the lives of
the world’s poorest people even more precarious. CRS, which supports projects in almost 100 countries,
already assists many communities to adapt to the consequences of climate change. In signaling the moral
dimensions of this issue and advocating for the needs of the most vulnerable, the Catholic Church brings
a distinct perspective to this urgent matter. Throughout his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated
strong leadership on climate change in his teaching office and through efforts to reduce the Vatican’s own
carbon footprint. In his 2010 World Day of Peace Message, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect
Creation, he pointed to the urgent moral need for solidarity with creation and those affected by climate
change. The pope insists, “To protect the environment, and to safeguard natural resources and the climate,
there is a need to act in accordance with clearly-defined rules … while at the same time taking into due
account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future generations”
(no. 7). The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is guided by the teaching of Pope
Benedict XVI and the principles articulated in the USCCB’s statement, Global Climate Change: A Plea
for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good. This statement notes that, “At its core, global climate
change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group
pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family.”
USCCB, Letter to Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change (2013)
April 22. Choose Life. On the Bible passage in which God says to Moses, “’Today I have set before
you life and prosperity, death and doom. Obey the commandments of the Lord, Your God, which I enjoin
on you today, loving him and walking in his ways,’ the choice of Moses is one Christians are faced with
every day. And it is a difficult choice. It is easier to let oneself be carried along by inertia, by situations,
habits. It is often easier to become servants of ‘other gods’. The choice is between God and other gods
who do not have the power to give us anything other than trivial, pithy little things that pass. It is not
easy to choose, we always have this habit of following the herd, like everyone else. Like everyone else.
Everyone and no one. Today the Church tells us: 'But, stop! Stop and choose '. This is good advice. It
would do us all good to stop and think a little during the day: What is my lifestyle like? Which path am I
on? The search for personal success, for possessions, without a thought for the Lord, for one’s family is
always the wrong path to choose. We are asked to “choose well between life and death.” The Holy
Father concluded that the ‘beautiful advice’ of the Psalm 1, can help us in this. "'Blessed are they who
hope in the Lord'. When the Lord gives us this advice - 'Stop! Choose today, choose '- He doesn’t
abandon us. He is with us and wants to help us. But we have to trust Him; we have to have faith in Him.
'Blessed are they who hope in the Lord'. Today, when we stop to think about these things and make
decisions, choose something, we know that the Lord is with us, beside us, helping us. He never abandons
us to ourselves, never. He is always with us. Even in the moment of choosing, He is with us."
– Pope Francis morning homily at Casa Santa Marta, 19 February 2015
April 23. The need for a worldwide ethical mobilization rejecting a culture of waste, economy of
exclusion, and a culture of death. Pope Francis encouraged the Secretary General of the United
Nations, Ban Ki-moon and other UN executives whom he received in the Vatican today, to promote “a
true, worldwide ethical mobilization” that will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and
solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded,” rejecting an “economy of
exclusion”, a “culture of waste” and a “culture of death”. Pope Francis, 9 May 2014
April 24. “In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be
achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact
relegated to the status of second-class citizens. The Pope also reminded UN leaders “of an incident which
took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the
encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made
a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus.
According to Francis, “today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and
6 sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with
complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also
intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier
unjustly refused to others. If we do not allow our hearts to be converted to this street of Jesus – bearing
the cross every day, the ordinary cross, the simple cross – and allowing Jesus to increase; if we do not
take this path, we will not be saints. But if we take this path, all of us will bear witness to Jesus Christ,
who loves us so much. And we bear witness that, although we are sinners, the Church is holy. She is the
spouse of Jesus.” Pope Francis, Holy Mass at Casa St. Marta 9 May 2014
April 25. The ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space… A
greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with
the cost of our use of common environmental resources. Pope Benedict, 2010 World Day of Peace
April 26. Climate change is here and now and getting worse, with continued fossil fuel use. “If
current trends continue, this century will witness unprecedented climate changes and ecosystem
destruction that will severely impact us all…The massive fossil fuel use at the heart of the global energy
system deeply disrupts the Earth’s climate and acidifies the world’s oceans. The warming and associated
extreme weather will reach unprecedented levels in our children’s life times... Our message is one of
urgent warning, for the dangers of the Anthropocene are real and the injustice of globalization of
indifference is serious. Yet our message is also one of hope and joy. A healthier, safer, more just, more
prosperous, and sustainable world is within reach.” Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 2014 joint statement
April 27. “We, Catholic Bishops from the south and the north… are deeply concerned by the
disproportionate impact human induced climate change is having on poor and vulnerable people
living in developing countries. Poor communities in developing countries are subject to the harshest
effects of climate change, though they have done least to cause it… It is our moral obligation to take
urgent action to tackle climate change and to do so in support of those most affected. Catholic
Bishops’ 2008 statement
April 28. A healthier, safer, more just, more prosperous, and sustainable world is within reach. In
2011 the Pontifical Academy of Sciences issued a report that declares, without qualification and with
utmost urgency, that global climate change is occurring, that humans bear responsibility for it, and that it
is our gravest moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. They recommend
reducing worldwide carbon use and emissions without delay. A 2009 report out of Stanford University
showed how the world can shift toward a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio as early as 2030, and at
a cost nearly equivalent to those currently associated with fossil fuels when accounting for their health
impacts, which are not currently included. Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical
Academy of Sciences, 2014 joint statement
April 29. “It is well known that climate change raises not only scientific, environmental and socioeconomic considerations, but also and above all ethical and moral ones, because it affects everyone,
in particular the poorest among us, those who are most exposed to its effects. For this reason, the Holy
See has often stressed that there is a moral imperative to act, for we all bear the responsibility to protect
and to value creation for the good of this and future generations. (…) The greatest challenge lies in the
sphere of human values and human dignity; questions which regard the human dignity of individuals and
of peoples are not able to be reduced to mere technical problems. In this sense, climate change becomes a
question of justice, respect and equity, a question which must awaken our consciences.” Cardinal
Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, 2014 statement
7 April 30. “When hunger and poverty turn every day into a battle for survival, climate change loads
the dice against the poor… Through our model of progressing and growing – especially the use of fossil
fuels – we have had a decisive impact on the natural world. Lands, forests, deserts, glaciers, rivers and
seas are changing. Whether through poor harvests, arid land, acidic oceans or more extreme and
unpredictable weather events (often, disastrous), the impact of the changing climate is unmistakable, is
scientifically proven beyond doubt and affects us all.” “In a world with enough food for everyone but
close to one billion people going hungry, climate change threatens to put an extra 20% of the world’s
population at risk of hunger by 2050 … We have become indifferent to the damage we are doing, both to
the natural world and to our poorest brothers and sisters.” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, 2014