Bishops Give Voice to Poor in Climate Change Debate

Note That They Contribute Least to Problem, Suffer Most

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 22, 2008 ( The U.S. bishops are again emphasizing that the developed world has to help change the fact that those who contribute least to climate change are those who suffer most from it.

Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said this Wednesday at a press briefing that gathered sponsors of Senate climate change legislation and interreligious leaders.

The bishop noted that the themes of creation and climate change are central to Benedict XVI’s pontificate. Along those lines, he said that U.S. bishops “insist that responding to climate change raises fundamental questions of morality and justice, fairness and shared sacrifice. As bishops, we lead a Church, not an interest group. We are not ‘the environmental movement at prayer.’

“We have called for principled, constructive, realistic and civil discussion on climate change.”

Bishop Wenski said the debate is moving forward.

“As Catholic bishops,” he clarified, “we are not here to endorse the many details of this or any other legislation, but we welcome and support their leadership in lifting up and seriously addressing how climate change will disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable in our country and around the world.”

Citing previous testimony from the bishops, he added: “The real ‘inconvenient truth’ is that those who contribute least to climate change will be affected the most and have the least capacity to cope or escape. The poor and vulnerable are most likely to pay the price of inaction or unwise actions. We know from our everyday experience their lives, homes, children and work are most at risk.’

“As religious leaders we make a plea for strong, bipartisan action on climate change that reflects the old-fashioned virtue of prudence and a genuine commitment to the common good. Protecting God’s creation and ‘the least of these’ requires urgent, wise and bold action. We join our religious partners in working to advance this essential moral, national and global priority.”

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