Bishop Robert McElroy’s Address and Meghan Goodwin’s Opening Remarks at Creighton University with Catholic Climate Covenant: A Dialogue on Our Common Home
The following post contains both Bishop Robert McElroy’s address and Meghan Goodwin’s opening remarks at Creighton University in conjunction with Catholic Climate Covenant on June 27, 2019. Bishop McElroy and Meghan Goodwin dialogue on the topic of creation as our common home.
Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy
Bishop of San Diego
1975, Harvard University, A.B. History
1976, Stanford University, M.A., American History
1979, St. Patrick’s Seminary, M. Div.
1985, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, S.T.L.
1986, Pontifical Gregorian University, S.T.D., Moral Theology
1989, Stanford, University, Ph.D., Political Science
The Urgent Summons of Laudato Si to the American People at this Moment in our History
An Address by Bishop Robert W. McElroy at Creighton University
On June 27, 2019
In his epic poem, Paradise Lost, John Milton captured the majestic drama of the fall and rise of humanity amidst the never-failing love and power of God’s presence in the world. In the fourth book of the poem, Satan approaches the Garden of Eden, resolved to bring down Adam and Eve precisely because they have become a focus of God’s love and tender care. As he enters the Garden, Satan is stunned and overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the Paradise that the Lord has created and bestowed upon the human family. But where once such overpowering loveliness would have turned his heart to God, now the very beauty of Paradise reminds Satan only of his own alienation from the Creator, and he despises the majesty of Creation, just as he despises its Creator. Speaking to the Sun, Satan cries out in pain.
O Thou, that with surpassing glory crowned,
Lookest from thy sole dominion like the lord
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads, to thee I call,
But with not with friendly voice, and add thy name
O sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Til pride and worse ambition threw me down.
The lament of Satan is forged by his very estrangement from the world of incomprehensible magnificence which God had created and which Satan had deformed.
For us as men and women of the twenty first century, this very same estrangement reverberates through our relationship with the earth which is our common home. Perceiving in the recesses of our soul the magnificence of the world that God has created for the entire human family, we yet allow selfishness, denial, the thirst for control, radical individualism and the rejection of God to forge a culture that progressively destroys the beauty and sustainability of the world which is our common home. And in that contradiction, we are estranged from the created order which God bestowed upon the human family as the setting of our pilgrimage on this earth.
Laudato Si’ both unmasks this estrangement and points to the pathway forward for us to move from alienation toward healing and the renewal of the earth. The encyclical is a call to arms for those who would rescue our bruised planet from the forces that deplete and destroy it. But Laudato Si’ is so much more than this. For in its delineation of an integral human ecology, it emphasizes that the illnesses that plague our world on so many levels are interrelated, and that progress in any one dimension requires attending to the wholeness of the human person and the human family, just as it attends to the wholeness of our planet earth.
For us in the United States at this perilous moment in our national history, the core themes of Laudato Si’ are especially urgent. We stand, deeply estranged from one another, seething in divisions and unwilling to reconcile. We are the most powerful nation in the history of the earth, yet have rejected the only realistic pathways that have emerged to heal our broken planet. When Europeans came to the New World, they were often drawn by a vision of a New Paradise in which the raw beauty of the original creation was untouched. Now the earth calls out to us in agony, and we remain blind to the harm that we are inflicting more deeply with every passing year.
Laudato Si’ is a call to re-forge the bonds of solidarity that have been at the core of every advance that we have made as a people. It is a call to recognize the profound economic inequality that cripples us as a society and powers the engines of consumerism and technological recklessness that separate us from our planet, our brothers and sisters in the human family, and most piercingly of all, from the well-being of the generations who will come after us.
For us to heal the estrangement which imperils us as a nation and as a world, we must unmask the various levels of alienation that underlie it, and understand that only an integrated prism of analysis is capable of pointing to the profound healing that we must begin in these days.
To read Bishop McElroy’s speech in its entirety…Paradise Lost Final Edition June 25 (1)
Meghan Goodwin is the Associate Director of Government Relations’ Domestic Social Development and International Justice and Peace Issues for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Meghan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia.
The Work of the Church and Care for Creation:
Implementing an Integral Ecology in Praxis
Welcome to everyone who has traveled to Creighton for this important convening on environment and climate issues. Thank you so much, Bishop McElroy, for that moving reflection on the urgent call of Laudato Si to the American people at this moment in history. It is an honor to share this moment up here with you – you are a consistent voice for the poor, the vulnerable, and the migrant, and an advocate for justice in the United States Catholic Church.
I will build on Bishop McElroy’s beautiful theological reflection by sharing some of the work that the Catholic Church is doing, from the halls of Congress, to the streets of Baltimore, to the mountains of Honduras, to stand in solidarity with those who are most affected by the exploitation of our shared home and how the Church addresses both the effects of this exploitation and works to prevent it from taking deeper root through its concretization in our local, national, and international policies.
My name is Meghan Goodwin, and I serve the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as Associate Director in the Office of Government Relations.
Care for creation is very near and dear to the heart of Pope Francis. Just last week, he convened leaders of some of the world’s most powerful oil and gas companies and investment funds. By the end of the meeting, executives were pledging to adhere to the Paris agreement and to help the world transition to a low-carbon future. This meeting followed a personal appeal by the Pope to avert a “climate emergency” that risks “perpetuating a brutal act of injustice against the poor and future generations.”
At the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, I and several of my colleagues do our part to further this priority of the Holy Father. We work closely with our valued partners, including the Catholic Climate Covenant, who worked so hard to put this conference together. Their vision and tireless work are a real asset to the Church. Before I continue, can I ask that we give a round of applause for the Covenant and for Creighton University for putting together this fantastic event?
Thank you so much for your dedication and hard work to organize Catholic leaders from around the country to act for climate justice.
I will take a few minutes to speak to the work done by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on climate issues. As I said, I work in the Office of Government Relations. In this role, I communicate the priorities of the Catholic bishops to Members of Congress. My portfolio focuses on Justice, Peace, and Human Development, both domestically and internationally. My daily work involves building relationships with Members of Congress and their staff and communicating the priorities of the United States Bishops to lawmakers on issues relating to climate justice, domestic poverty, and international justice and peace. This involves engagement with Congress, sometimes alone and sometimes in coalition with other Catholic and Christian groups, on legislation that seeks to address degradation of the environment and slow factors that contribute to climate change. The pairing of advocacy related to domestic and international poverty with environmental justice advocacy is a natural fit. In Laudato Si Pope Francis writes that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (LS 49)
I have seen the intersection of exploitation of the environment with exclusion of the poor arise again and again in the way that local, national, and international policies are crafted, and how they impact those who live in the poorest parts of our cities, or who subsist on the land for survival, and how they exacerbate existing inequalities, sometimes even leading to ethnic or religious conflict.
To read Meghan’s response in its entirety: Opening remarks on Environment and Climate, Goodwin copy