Speaker links stewardship to environment

By | February 18, 2009

Through Gronski’s role as policy coordinator for the NCRLC, he strives to get people to stop and think of the moral implications of climate change, who is most impacted and perhaps most importantly, what the Catholic community should do in response.

One of the key things Gronski sees parishes can do is to encourage their members to adopt the St. Francis Pledge to Protect Creation and The Poor. This initiative, developed by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, asks among other things to make the solemn commitment to honor God’s creation and to serve the poor through a variety of ways, including praying and reflecting on the duty to care for God’s creation and to protect the poor and vulnerable who are often most severely affected by climate change.

“The pledge asks Catholic institutions to endorse this, calling for prayer and action. We’re hoping that people will have prayer services, get caught up in climate legislation on lowering emissions and other incentives for a greener economy,” added Gronski.

The last point is one that drives much of Gronski’s work at the conference. The NCRLC has always been involved with agricultural issues and other environmental concerns, and says that the poorest tend to be hardest hit by climate change.

“With Hurricane Katrina and other (flooding and hurricanes) … low-income and rural areas are often the worst hit. Let’s not forget about rural America, who suffers hard from heat stress, too much water or not enough water, who bear the brunt of (environmental) problems,” he emphasized.

Gronski tries to make Catholics aware of the policy and legislation happening on the federal level, particularly in the area of the Farm Bill, and also with regard to preservation and other climate legislation.

“We need a sense of urgency for changing behaviors and policies. Our objective goes back to raising your voices. We can change our actions locally as individuals and families, but that needs to be backed up by good policies,” he said.

While acknowledging the severe economic situation, he encourages others to be prudent and strive for the common good and to continue to push climate legislation. He points to many hopeful things under way, including President Obama’s efforts to define climate policy by appointing a climate envoy and clearing the way for new rules to force automakers to produce cleaner cars.

Gronski reiterates that we need to keep Pope John Paul II’s message of peace in mind in how we live our everyday lives. “He was trying to signal to us that in the respect for life we have as Christians, that we need to make sure that we can apply that to all of creation because we are dependent on the earth, soil and water. … If we don’t take care of the earth, all the other problems will emanate.”

Norbertine Br. Steve Herro, social concerns director for the Diocese of Green Bay, said the pledge and other efforts are excellent ways to be progressive with Earth Week activities in April. He referred to curriculum available through Just Faith Ministries that can be used by a cohort group of eight to 15 people in a parish.

Other options include creating an environmental committee or incorporating stewardship and environmental efforts into the peace and justice committee. “Parishes can look at their electricity use in the building, the drive to and from the parish…they can make (the environment and stewardship) part of the liturgy on Sunday,” said Gronski.

Other ideas for more closely associating stewardship and environmentalism include:

  • Incorporating a Caring for Creation celebration into your worship service.
  • Encouraging your youth group to participate in an environmentally focused fund-raiser project.
  • Planning a special Caring for Creation focus for the congregation, such as an energy efficiency work project, think globally/buy locally event.
  • Parishes can visit www.coolcongregations.com to participate in exercises to develop their carbon footprints – and then do something about it, as well as check out www.Catholicsforclimatechange.org or www.nrclc.com.

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