Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 17, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Federation Takes Stance on Climate Control by Sister Mary Rose Noonan, CSJ

 On December 10, 2007, the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph drafted a corporate stance on the crucial issue of climate change. The statement came at a wonderfully appropriate time for us to make a New Year=s resolution that veers from our ordinarily individualistic and often uncommitted promises to the pursuit of the common good. In addition, the statement preceded by only a few days the dramatic reversed decision by the United States to compromise on some participation during the next two years in negotiations aimed at reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

The corporate stance of the Federation is based on the focus of our founder, Jean Pierre Médaille, SJ, who called together the first Sisters of St. Joseph in seventeenth-century France to base our life on the Gospel mandate: AThat all may be one.@ The corporate statement begins: AWe are concerned for all God=s creation and our sisters and brothers everywhere. Earth, which reflects God=s glory, is in great peril. We accept scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity. The United Nations= Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its February 2007 report states: >Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations, widespread melting of snow and ice and the rising global average sea level.= We accept our responsibility to find solutions to this devastation of Earth and to act accordingly and immediately.@

As the Albany Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, we recognize that the current environmental crisis associated with climate change is a spiritual crisis, as much as an economic, technical and political one. The corporate statement of the Federation continues by quoting Pope John Paul II: AFaced 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 Y A new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge.@ (The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility, Dec. 1989) A core spiritual teaching of all great wisdom traditions is that all of life is interdependent. The Federation statement reminds us that we must work to revise public policies until they are fully aligned with this concept. As the Albany Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph, we know that deepening a perspective that places needs before wants and does not allow greed or abuse to outstrip the availability of resources is vital.

The Federation statement urges us to consider the magnitude of the environmental problem: AOur Church reminds us: >The consequences of climate change will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas of greater risk.@ (Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican Representative of the United Nations May 10, 2007) Even in our own area of New York State, poor families and children, vulnerable workers and farmers are likely to be most affected by climate change and thus must be included at every level in decisions which affect their life.

So, what about those New Year=s promises? We of the Albany Province can join the Federation in some concrete resolutions. AWe urge our governmental officials to join the world community to enact legislation which will reduce the emissions of global greenhouse gas and to sign the Kyoto Treaty as a sign of our nation=s commitment to reduce global warming. We call on our friends, and we commit ourselves to reduce carbon emissions by our activities and lifestyles, so that all God=s people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, will not suffer the devastating consequences of climate change. We recognize that what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves, and we commit ourselves to support ALL life on Earth.@

Let us join the global community by integrating a justice and ecological sustainability which includes a respect for diversity and recognizes and embraces all cultures, species and religious traditions. Happy New Year!

(Material from the Federation Statement and Talking Points)


(December 15, 2007)