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May 1

Answering the Cry of the Earth and the Poor

On Saturday, April 29, on the streets of the nation’s capital, on a day of record-breaking heat, Catholics made a field of sunflowers bloom.

God did not make these sunflowers. We created them out of cardboard and yardsticks, carpenter’s glue and acrylic paint. On them we wrote simple, positive messages. Many of the flowers spoke for the things only God could make: “CATHOLICS 4 BEES.” “CATHOLICS 4 CORAL REEFS.” Some of the flowers spoke for the things only we can make to work, for the sake of God’s precious creatures: “CATHOLICS 4 THE EPA.” “CATHOLICS 4 SCIENCE.” Some flowers called us to imagine another future: “CATHOLICS 4 SOLAR.” “CATHOLICS 4 VEGANS.”

Many people marched with the People’s Climate Movement to lament the destruction of our Sister Mother Earth. Others marched because they are angry that decision makers in the energy business and in government are acting irresponsibly in the face of the climate crisis. Everyone marched because they agree that all life on earth is sacred, and all life is in danger. Knowing what we know about anthropogenic climate change, aren’t the extinctions that happen daily morally imputable to us? The Catechism of the Catholic Church forbids actions whose intent lead indirectly to death, naming as an example the “usurious and avaricious dealings” that lead to “murderous famine” (2269).

We Catholics who are concerned about creation also feel the need to mourn, and to express our outrage at the harm being done to the air, earth, and water; and to all the living things whose survival depends on what humans do collectively with their enormous power to shape the fragile blue world we share. But we are a resurrection people, and we look forward to the new creation vouchsafed to us by Christ, the first-born of all creatures who is before all else that is and in whom everything continues in being (Colossians 1:15, 17). We believe a global ecological conversion is possible. Thus it was with joy—more than grief or anger—that we marched and prayed, calling for a penance of abstinence from fossil fuels, and a holy poverty that limits the resources human communities consume in developed nations.

The Parish of Holy Cross-Saint John the Baptist would like to thank the Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement for organizing the bus that brought 50 Catholics from parishes in the West Side of Manhattan to Washington for this historic assembly.