About the time of the feast of St. Francis — made so special this year by the presence of your new pope who chose the name Francis to be his very own — the Catholic Charities Nazareth Office in Nazareth, Ky., produced a newspaper article it shared with the media of the Kentucky Holy Land. It is a report that is worth sharing with readers of The Record, too.
There was a time — not so long ago where the blink-of-an-eye history of man is concerned — when science was considered dangerous, a kind of sorcery. The societies of the Dark and Middle Ages didn’t have men and women of science, they had wizards and conjurers. Not so long ago, The New York Times noted that 90 percent of all scientists who ever lived in the history of the human race are still alive today.
That’s how “new” science is, and perhaps that’s why there’s a percentage of people in the country — small though they may be — who tend to dismiss science as merely something intended to confuse our children or get in the way of corporate profits.
That’s why the Nazareth Office report, written — though she modestly protests the singling-out of her contribution — by Sister of Mercy Mary Schmuck, is so enlightening and encouraging.
The beautifully-constructed piece notes, for instance, that 95 percent of the scientific community agrees that global warming and climate change are realities, and that if we are to be good stewards of the earth — as St. Francis, Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in fact, the entire Catholic Church — have called us to be, then we must realize the veracity of the scientific claims about what’s happening to our home.
We are called, Sister Schmuck notes, to leave the Earth a better place than we found it. “In that very spirit of St. Francis,” she wrote, “Catholic Charities of Louisville since 2009 has been carefully following through on the work of a national Catholic coalition that includes three entities from our U.S. (bishops’ conference) in promoting the St. Francis Pledge in our archdiocese.”
In case you haven’t heard of the St. Francis Pledge, Sister Schmuck explains that it is a simple call to take five easy steps to action. Here is the pledge:
- Pray and reflect on our duty to care for God’s creation and protect (persons who are) poor and vulnerable.
- Learn about and educate others on creation care and its moral dimensions.
- Assess our participation as individuals and organizations in care for creation.
- Act to change our choices and behaviors as needed.
- Advocate Catholic principles and priorities in care for creation in discussions, decisions and public policy, especially as these impact persons who are poor and vulnerable.
There are those in our society — and even some few in our archdiocese — who believe that the emphasis on science, on climate change and global warming, is a political issue, not one of science and morality.
They are wrong.
Time and again the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis himself have called for the protection of creation; they’ve said that good stewardship of God’s handiwork is part of our moral obligation.
That’s the way Sister Schmuck and others at Nazareth and Catholic Charities see things, too. In fact, Sister Schmuck noted in her article that since 2009, 193 archdiocesan entities “parishes, schools, health care providers, agencies and motherhouses — have been surveyed annually about actions each is taking to better care for creation and people.”
What those surveys found is encouraging. Nearly 75 archdiocesan entities are trying to become more energy efficient. More than 100 have engaged in recycling; the Nazareth Catholic Charities agency “is doggedly co-sponsoring periodic electronic waste recycling events” at various parish sites, Sister Scmuck wrote.
Fifty-five parishes, agencies or other archdiocesan organizations have community gardens. There is a sense, she noted, that people throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville are encouraged to find ways to improve the environment and take “better care of God’s gift for God’s people.”
Pope Francis, in his inaugural address on March 19, used language that would have made his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, more than proud.
“In the end,” the pope said, “everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.”