Only Say The Word And Our Earth Shall Be Healed

by Maddy Fox

In the modern world, religion and science seem perpetually at odds. However, when it comes to climate change, the real setback is in the secular world. The Catholic Church in particular has spoken out multiple times about the issue of global warming. Whereas the Papacy has always had a somewhat conservative view, the opposite is true in regard to their opinions on global warming. But what does this mean for us?

One of the most conservative religious groups has finally caught up to the mainstream, but the mainstream fails to progress. Recently, Donald Trump has made major cuts for EPA funding (Washington Post). But this is only one of the ways Donald Trump has sabotaged environmental funding. He also withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017. This agreement was created to cut back on gasses and emissions that scientists have proven to cause climate change (NBC News).

This action alone spoke for the White House’s beliefs without question. This not only affects our country’s environmental position, but it also influences the way world leaders look at our nation and our environmental outlook. Our president is one of the main resisters in a world pushing for scientific progress in an attempt to reverse some of our human inflicted damages. We must stand by science despite our leader’s blindness, as something clearly must be done.

Though many Catholics are supporters of Trump, many disagree with his denial of climate change. Having a spiritual leader that actively preaches about the importance of environmental activism helps this cause.

In May of 2017, President Trump met with the current pope, Pope Francis. Pope Francis came prepared for the meeting with a gift for the American President-- “Francis presented President Trump with a signed copy of ‘Laudato Si’ — the pontiff’s 192-page work calling for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change” (Washington Post). The work as a whole explains how we as human beings must coexist with our planet, and we must treat it kindly. This act formed a sort of détente between science and the Papacy.

The Catholic Church is a powerful force in the modern world, and it has the ability to influence both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. With its current outreach, the Catholic Church has the power to become one of the leading voices in environmental awareness and advocacy. To begin the movement, the Pope is calling for an “ecological conversation.” Given that there are over 1 billion Catholics across the world, this conversation is one that could influence the opinions of over 16% of the entire world (Live Science).

Most recently, Catholics are urging the UN to act on the climate change crisis; “Catholics who work on the climate change issue say the world has ‘a moral and ethical imperative to act,’ with urgency and decisiveness” (National Catholic Reporter). Actions across the world are being taken, petitions are being signed, and a movement of environmental educators is spreading environmental awareness. America Magazine states, “Such efforts on behalf of the environment illustrate the widespread support in the faith community for action to protect natural resources and to address climate change that emerged with new energy in 2018.” As time progresses, this support is changing the way the world views climate change.

Despite Pope Francis’ recent efforts to make a connection between the church and science, people of the Catholic faith have denied certain scientific advances. The Washington Post states that in 2015, Rick Santorum said that Pope Francis should “leave science to the scientists.” Certain powerful members of the Catholic Church are in the public eye more than others, such as Rick Santorum. It is these people who have the ability to misrepresent the church and wrongly influence followers. Religion and science are in theory two completely separate things, yet one can affect the other greatly. Strong religious belief can cause blindness when certain scientific facts are presented, and it is important to understand how this relationship works. Instead of diluting the scientific field, the Pope’s environmental endorsement is allowing a whole new sect of religious scientific supporters to surface.

When a religious community as strong as the Catholic Church is trying to make strides to support science, it does not help for some of their more outspoken members to denounce their good effort. We must embrace the help that is being presented to us for assistance in the war against climate change. Catholics and non-Catholics around the world must understand that climate change is an issue that our world is faced with, and it will only get worse if we do not do anything about it. We must put religious differences aside and listen to the rationality of science. If one of the most powerful religious leaders in the world can do it, so can we.