Interfaith event highlights care for creation, climate

Tomas Insua of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, spoke in Louisville Jan. 30. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Keith Runyon, Special to The Record

When he issued his encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si’,” in May 2015, Pope Francis declared: “It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.”

One person who heeded his call was Tomas Insua, a young Argentinian who had spent most of his adult life engaged in relief work, either in the barrios of Buenos Aires or in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

Insua organized the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of more than 400 Catholic-member organizations representing more than a million Catholics and guided by an international steering committee. Originally based in Boston, Insua has now moved to Rome, where he’s in the center of action and near Pope Francis.

Insua brought his campaign for support of the GCCM to Louisville Jan. 30-31, when he met with a variety of groups. At a dinner on the evening of Jan. 30, attended by a diverse interfaith group, he shared the key  goals of the organization:

  • Recognition and understanding of the content of “Laudato Si’,” notably the pope’s message expressing the urgency of the climate crisis.
  • Understanding the element of justice in addressing this issue. Injustices are inflicted upon the poor, our children and grandchildren, and upon other creatures.
  • Action: seeing how and why things are happening.

With those understandings, the GCCM seeks to engage with the encyclical in three ways, he said:

  • The spiritual dimension: We need to change our hearts about the environment.
  • The lifestyle dimension: We must change the way that we live and treat creation.
  • The public policy dimension: With changed hearts and lifestyles, we move forward to influence public policy through facts and faith.

At the dinner on Jan. 30, each guest was invited to sign a pledge card supporting Laudato Si’. Its points were:

  • A central commitment to live the pope’s message;
  • A promise to pray for and with creation;
  • To live more simply; and
  • To advocate to protect “our common home.”

Insua came to Louisville to meet with executives of the Schneider Electric Company, an international company that specializes (among other things) in tracking programs for gauging energy use. Schneider Electric has its home offices in Louisville.

Those who attended the dinner also heard from the event’s organizer, Christina Lee Brown, founder of the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil; Father William Hammer, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church, which hosts an effort called Project Green Heart; and Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and an expert on the environment. He is a founding member of the institute’s advisory board.

To learn more about the Global Catholic Climate Movement, visit https://catholicclimatemovement.global.

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