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Local faith leaders, scientists call for action on climate change in joint appeal


Faith leaders and scientists gathered with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley May 23 at the Pastoral Center to call for action on climate change. Pilot photo/Mark Labbe

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BRAINTREE -- A joint statement released May 23 and signed by hundreds of scientists and faith leaders, including Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, calls on "all of us" for action on climate change.

"Climate change is an ecological and moral emergency that impacts all other aspects of our shared lives and requires us to work together to protect our common home," reads the appeal.

Listing the dangers climate change poses for the "stability of the planet," and the devastation it causes to "the most vulnerable," the appeal notes "we come together as people of scientific competence and people of faith because continued inaction is both scientifically irrational and morally indefensible."

Signed by over 500 scientists and faith leaders, the appeal represents a coming together of people of vastly different backgrounds and faith beliefs to confront a problem that threatens "our common home."

The appeal came months after a joint conference of the two communities was held at the Pastoral Center, the Archdiocese of Boston's Braintree headquarters. The conference addressed climate change, and formed the initial partnership between the communities.

"All of us -- religion, science, business, labor, government, education, civic organizations, communities, and individuals -- must do our utmost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect our communities from the catastrophic impacts of climate change," the appeal notes. "We especially call upon our political representatives to address the climate crisis with the boldness and urgency it requires, with substantive and immediate action."

The appeal was released May 23 during a press conference at the Pastoral Center, the Archdiocese of Boston's Braintree headquarters, that saw dozens of local faith leaders and scientists attend. The conference included comments from Dr. Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Associate Minister for Ecological Justice at Bethel AME Church, and Cardinal O'Malley.

In his statements, Cardinal O'Malley recalled the initial conference earlier this year, saying that it was the consensus of those who attended it that "we should urge our fellow citizens of the Commonwealth to be aware of the importance of taking action to address the growing reality of climate change."

For the Catholic community, he said, inspiration was found in Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'."

"In 'Laudato Si', Pope Francis calls us to organize our societies in ways that hold protection of the environment as a priority," said the cardinal. "In our local communities we hope that we can make a difference by advocating for responsible policies, educating people of all ages about the importance of environmental awareness and each day making choices that respect and support the sustainability of the world around us."

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