Trump pulls out of the Paris agreement: Catholic leaders respond

Posted on 10. Jun, 2017 by .


Taken from americamagazine.org –

Just last week President Trump told Pope Francis that he would read “Laudato Si’,” Francis’ encyclical on the environment and climate change. Based on today’s events, it is clear that the president either has not yet read it, or he simply disagrees with what the pontiff said.

Today in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, which virtually the entire world had joined in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. The United States joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations not committed to the voluntary restrictions outlined in the agreement.

Around the United States and the world, Catholic leaders quickly voiced their concerns through statements, emails and tweets.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who is the chairman of the USCCB committee on international justice and peace issued the following statement: “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”

Read more here

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Urban trees as solution to address air pollution and extreme heat

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .


Trees are one of the single best infrastructure investments cities can make – in fact, a major report by the Nature Conservancy concludes trees are the only cost-effective solution addressing both air quality and rising urban temperatures. Some of the world’s largest cities could dramatically improve public health by investing just $4 per capita in their canopies.

Tree plantings can reduce downwind particulate matter concentrations by 7 to 24 percent, and temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Trees can also cool urban temperatures by 1.5C. “Cities often think about tree-planting budgets totally separate from their health budgets, said lead author Rob McDonald. “We want cities to see the link between the two.”

These report offers guidelines and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of urban trees: NatureCity Lab

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Take Action: Prepare for World Refugee Day

Posted on 30. Apr, 2017 by .



World Refugee Day is scheduled for June 20, 2017. The Catholic Church has for decades taken seriously the plight of these vulnerable refugees and through advocacy, education efforts, and service provision sought to provide increased protections for them.

These efforts take place on the international level through the hard work of Catholic organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Jesuit Relief Services, who provide support to refugees in camps and communities across the world. It takes place domestically, here in the United States, through Catholic Charities and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Both organizations advocate for further protections and provide support for newly arriving refugees.

Last week, the Justice for Immigrants campaign hosted a webinar to discuss ways that communities and parishes can celebrate. They have developed this toolkit for members, parishes and communities to use in planning your World Refugee Day celebrations. There are social media posts, sample prayer intentions and talking points. We encourage our

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Choosing Between Being a Good American and a Good Father

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .


He won’t go to the Humane Society because seeing all the dogs without homes makes him too sad. He will watch nerdy YouTube videos on history or space or giant ships for hours. Our youngest, at nineteen, isn’t exactly “special,” but he lives at some distance from the world the rest of us live in. For years I would have to say, “This universe, sweetheart,” when he drifted away.

It’s Jonathan I think of when I see a headline in a Foreign Policy mailing asking when Trump will start his first war, or when I read about one of his advisors ranting about Iran, or see the president’s latest belligerent tweet. America has a history of starting unjustified wars with more stable men in the Oval Office. What the country will do when led by a man of impulse and appetite no one knows, but it will be worse.

I know the chances of this are very small, but I still wonder what I would do if Trump started a war and reinstituted the draft, and Jonathan was drafted. Military training would destroy him, even if the Army failed to turn a gentle, distracted soul into a soldier. The war would almost certainly be one I could not support. Having grown up at the end of the Vietnam War, I had the formative experience of seeing my country wage a war incompetently and with insouciant disregard for the loss of American and Vietnamese lives. New wars must meet a high standard of necessity and justice.

We would tell him not to serve. Would we help him go to Canada? Mexico, maybe? Europe? I wonder what sort of life he would have, supported by his parents, unable to take all the steps to living an adult life because as an alien he couldn’t get a normal job. And would he be able to come back some day, or would a vindictive state keep him out? I probably won’t have to think about this, but I might. It’s at least a helpful thought experiment.

To refuse to cooperate with ICE in such a case would be to side with the powerless

To turn to a more likely possibility, what if we have an immigrant family visiting, and ICE agents come to the door and demand the father, or perhaps both parents, or even one of the children? Would I admit they were inside, and would I let the agents in? In theory, I accept that a nation must control its borders. But were the ICE agents at the door demanding one of our guests, I’m sure I would refuse to say whether he was inside. Not because I deny the agents’ legal authority. I would refuse because I’d remember the cruel and unnecessary way that agency has treated immigrants, the way it ignores their rights when it can get away with it, the cold way it breaks up families and targets people it could just as well leave alone.

To refuse to cooperate with ICE in such a case would be to side with the powerless subjected to the effects of a demagogic campaign appeal and a publicity stunt. It would be to demand justice for the weakest in a cynical arrangement by which America benefits from these immigrants while keeping them in fear. They do the jobs no one else wants and provide the flexible labor pool U.S. companies want, and when they’re not needed they can be sent away. America is only selectively worried about illegal immigrants. The policy is unjust and ICE enforces the injustice.

One assumes that the injustices of one’s own country are the kind inevitable in a fallen world

I don’t think I’m unusual in being a father who had expected to live a life in conformity with the law and broad comfort with the society in which he was raising a family. Even the Marxist professors in the college town where I grew up expected this. One might have severe criticisms of various agents of the state and even of the society itself, but none of that meant a settled position of resistance or serious thoughts about disregarding the law. One assumes that the injustices of one’s own country are the kind inevitable in a fallen world—to be lamented, certainly, but never requiring open defiance.

Suddenly, I can imagine having to live in open defiance. One part of the problem is that our new president doesn’t seem to care about the truth. He does what he does, says what he says, and never lets an inconvenient fact get in the way. The other part is that the president and his party in Congress seem to have no concern for the common good, no sense of solidarity with the poor—life’s “losers,” as Trump might call them. He believes in a preferential option for the successful.

I think about Jonathan often as I read the news. He comes to adulthood in a world his father didn’t expect. It may force a choice between being a good American and being a good father, and I’m a father first.

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Physical Activity: Health Benefits & the Role of the Built Environment and Air Pollution

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .


pag_02New community design strategies and smart growth principles have the potential to increase exercise and active transportation, but if individuals are walking and bicycling on high-traffic roads, their exposure to air pollution may also be increased. This white paper summarizes the published literature on the health benefits of physical activity, with a specific focus on walking and bicycling for transportation. The paper also examines studies analyzing the combined health effects of increased physical activity and air pollution exposure, finding that in most environments the health benefits outweigh the harms.

(Download the white paper and factsheet)

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