Statement on Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change and the Environment

June 18, 2015
Press Release

Washington D.C. – Today, Pope Francis–the leader of more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide–released a papal encyclical, “Laudato Si, On the Care of our Common Home”. The encyclical echoes what we already know, the climate is changing and human actions, especially the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels, are the cause. The encyclical goes on to urge the world’s  governments to act, calling on developed nations to lead, citing the disproportionate impacts that climate change will have on the world’s poor and those living in developing countries.

SEEC Members Released the Following Statement:

“For those unmoved by the science of climate change, we hope that Pope Francis’ encyclical demonstrates the virtue and moral imperative for action. Today’s announcement further aligns the scientific and moral case for climate action, yet the political will of many is still askew. The time to act on climate is now, and failure to do so will further damage the planet, its people, and our principles.”

Additional Quotes from SEEC Member:

SEEC Co-Chair Paul Tonko (NY-20): “Pope Francis frames the reality of climate change in a way that we must consider if we are to protect our environment for future generations, future economic development, and future progress. It is a moral imperative to act as a good steward of the environment and the gifts we have been given. I thank the Pope and I hope his encyclical will ring true with all of us, including those that deny climate change both in Congress and around the world.”

SEEC Co-Chair Gerry Connolly (VA-11):  “Pope Francis offers a brave, powerful and needed voice for the moral imperative to act on climate change.”

SEEC Vice-Chair Matt Cartwright (PA-17): “I welcome the Pope’s encyclical on the need for the world to address climate change.  I share the Pope’s belief that we should all be good stewards of God’s creation, preserve it for future generations, and care for our vulnerable brothers and sisters.  That’s why I believe the federal government should adopt policies to address climate change and better plan for its effects, recognizing that the poor and vulnerable people will suffer disproportionately.”

SEEC Vice-Chair Alan Lowenthal (CA-47): “I thank the Pope for his continued leadership in bringing global attention to the plight of the world’s poor and vulnerable because of environmental harms nations like ours have committed. When it comes to climate change, the science is settled. It’s up to the world’s leaders to take the science to heart, understand the impacts of climate change as a humanitarian issue, and act: this is exactly what Pope Francis has done with his call for recognition and action. Climate change knows no geographic, political, ethnic, or religious barriers.  It affects all people.  As a nation we have a responsibility, not just to our own citizens, but to our fellow travelers on this delicate blue sphere we call home. We must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and put an end to unneeded suffering because of climate change before it gets any worse."

SEEC Vice-Chair Jared Polis (CO-02): "I applaud Pope Francis for his powerful and historic commitment to addressing climate change. Today's encyclical reaffirms not only the evidence-based impacts of human activity, but also the moral imperative we all face in combating them. I'm hopeful that the foresight and fortitude displayed by Pope Francis - and other increasingly vocal faith leaders - will shift the debate on climate change and encourage similarly meaningful commitments to emission reduction by leaders worldwide."

SEEC Climate Task Force Chair Scott Peters (CA-52): “Being a person of faith should come in tandem with a desire to act on climate change. We must be good stewards of our planet, God’s creation, for our children and grandchildren.”

SEEC Environment Task Force Chair Jim Langevin (RI-02): "As a lifelong, devoted member of the Catholic faith, I have been so encouraged and inspired by His Holiness Pope Francis and his vision not just for the future of the church but also for a more accepting, peaceful world, and - as evidenced by his encyclical - a planet that is better cared for and protected by all, Pope Francis has the power to engage so many people in this important discussion and call them to action, and I believe his leadership will make a marked difference on our collective efforts to combat climate change."

SEEC Member Niki Tsongas (MA-03): “Climate change is no longer an academic question for scientists to ponder. It is a very real crisis and I applaud Pope Francis for his leadership and strong advocacy on behalf of global action to address the irreversible effects of climate change. Climate change is not a political issue. It is a critical generational responsibility that will take a commitment from governments and world leaders, as well as from each of us at home. It is my hope that Pope Francis’ words will help spark action from us all to urgently address critical environmental issues which, if untouched, will cause irreparable harm to current and future generations. America must be at the forefront and lead by example. We must embrace modern policies that aim to, among other things, cut carbon emissions, increase the use and effectiveness of sustainable energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, and encourage the development of innovative green technology. The economic, security and environmental benefits will be widespread, long-lasting and significant. My gratitude goes out to Pope Francis for speaking out on this important global issue and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to put words into action.”

SEEC Member Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36): “Climate change is a real and present danger that threatens the health and security of millions of people across the globe – especially the poor. I applaud Pope Francis for taking a stand on climate change and calling the world to action. I will continue to work toward pragmatic and effective ways to curb carbon emissions and to raise awareness of the social justice impact of climate change.” 

SEEC Member Mike Quigley (IL-05): “Congress has debated the truth about climate change for far too long. More than twelve thousand peer- reviewed scientific studies are in agreement: climate change is real and humans are significantly to blame. And today, Pope Francis stated the same in his climate change encyclical. I thank the Pope for his call to action on this urgent issue and hope that his encyclical continues the conversation on this direct threat to humanity.”

SEEC Member Ted Lieu (CA-33): As a Catholic, a Veteran, an officer in the Air Force reserves, and a Californian who was elected to the United States Congress to help tackle climate change, I am inspired by Pope Francis’s position on climate.  Pope Francis has courageously stood up not only for the earth and the environment, but the poorest and most vulnerable among us who are most affected by climate change.  I look forward to personally thanking Pope Francis for his leadership on this issue when he comes to Capitol Hill in September. 

SEEC Member Suzan DelBene (WA-01): “I agree with Pope Francis, in order to protect our communities and environment, we must address the challenge that climate change poses without delay. Communities of faith have been tireless leaders in this effort and it’s encouraging to see more world leaders come together for such an important moral cause. Without a doubt, climate change is a serious threat to our way of life, our economy and our children – not to mention the future of our planet – and we need to address it now.”

SEEC Member Chris Van Hollen (MD-08): “I welcome Pope Francis’ overture to people of all nations and faiths to unite behind the effort to combat climate change. As one of humanity’s greatest collective challenges, addressing climate change requires a global effort with strong leadership. The dangerous impacts of climate change disproportionately fall on the shoulders of vulnerable populations who are least empowered to prepare and act. Pope Francis rightly points out that those who are fortunate enough to be in the position to act should feel morally compelled to do so. The gridlock in Congress has made action on this critical issue difficult, but I applaud President Obama for forging ahead where possible.  The United States must lead on this issue. I’ve offered legislation that would achieve necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country. Partisan politics must not stand in the way of protecting future generations. Our climate is in crisis, and the Pope’s voice adds significant weight to the consensus that we must act quickly to mitigate the threat.”  

SEEC Member Raul Grijalva (AZ-03): “Pope Francis’ call for action, reflection and honesty transcends politics and shouldn’t be treated as just another piece of the partisan news cycle.  It should be heeded and taken to heart, especially by those who profit from environmental damage and human suffering. Our actions and inactions have damaged the lives of billions of people, especially those who have little political or economic power to defend themselves, and Pope Francis is right to put the focus on them. I share his vision of a planet where justice, environmental sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand, and I am encouraged to see that vision resonate so powerfully around the world today. We are reminded that this year offers what may be our last best hope for a world climate agreement. If all of us – including my friends in Congress – truly consider the moral dimension of the damage we are doing to our planet and its people, and act on that consideration, the many millions of our brothers and sisters who take heart from today’s message will not take heart in vain.”

SEEC Member Jackie Speier (CA-14): “I am inspired by the ‪Pope's teaching, and his call to action to save our planet as well as our fellow women and men. We must take action to mitigate the damage that ‪climate change is already doing to the most vulnerable among us.”

SEEC Member John Sarbanes (MD-03): “Pope Francis’ encyclical about today’s environmental challenges speaks volumes about the threat that climate change poses to each and every person. I applaud the Pope, and other leaders in the faith community, for joining the chorus of global influential voices who are bringing much-needed attention to this issue and urging action. In coastal areas, industrialized cities and on small island nations – and even in local communities across Maryland’s Third Congressional District – we’re already beginning to see the pernicious impacts of climate change. For this reason, we must commit ourselves to policies that help our nation reduce carbon emissions, become more energy efficient and transition to a clean-energy economy. Ultimately, however, the effort to mitigate climate change is a moral one. The Pope aptly calls Earth, ‘our common home’ and implores all of us to take better care of it. In this just, earnest and honest cause of caring for our home, we can and must do better.”

SEEC Member Earl Blumenauer (OR-03): “For years the science on climate change has been clear - the climate is changing because of human activity. The challenge of climate change is not just a matter of scientific consensus or political debate, it is a challenge that we must embrace fully as a moral responsibility. This is about responsibility to the fellow creatures that share our planet, to the more vulnerable human populations who contribute the least to climate change but will suffer the most, and to our children and future generations. The Pope's encyclical released today adds a profound dimension to the conversation that I hope will inspire all individuals and governments to redouble their efforts to meet this challenge head on.”

SEEC Member John Delaney (MD-06): “I applaud the brave leadership of Pope Francis on climate change. Pope Francis has made a strong moral case for action on climate change and I believe that each of my colleagues in Congress should read his message. As Pope Francis makes clear, climate change is a global problem, a global crisis of the highest order that threatens the most vulnerable among us. The issue is total, impacting health, the economy and safety. I have made climate change a legislative priority, filing legislation earlier this year to tackle carbon pollution. Pope Francis’s historic call for action on climate change is more evidence of the growing consensus that we must respond to this problem before it is too late.”

SEEC Member Donna Edwards (MD-04): “I welcome Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical for its thoughtful and forceful commitment to saving our planet for future generations,” Edwards said. “As a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have long said that the science of climate change is a settled matter.  The Pope rightfully points out that global warming is real, that it is at least partially the result of human activity through the use of fossil fuels, and that the impacts of climate change will unduly impact low-income communities. He also strongly and eloquently frames this as a moral issue for the world that must be immediately addressed by all people and all countries. I agree that governments must act on climate change in a real and profound way and developed countries should be leading this effort. I am hopeful that the Pope’s ability to place climate change in the larger context of the disconnect between humans and their natural environment will allow us to move beyond denial of the science. We must have a true debate on how to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect our earth for future generations.”