Role of Policy Makers Highlighted in Caring for Our Common Home
Original article published by California Catholic Conference
In their recent pastoral statement, God Calls Us to Care for Our Common Home, the California Bishops asked all to heed the call to a spiritual conversion that respects our common home and cares for all. They also identified specific responsibility for lawmakers, public officials and other policy makers who “because of their influence over institutions, have extra responsibilities for upholding the common good.”
Of course, the most visible expression of that responsibility for a lawmaker is through legislation and the California Catholic Conference (CCC) continues to advocate on behalf of many proposals, just as it did prior to the release of Laudato Si’.
For instance, a key piece of legislation supported by the CCC was SR 37, which encouraged the California legislature to study and take into account the Papal Encyclical when considering climate change in relevant legislative action. That resolution was adopted the summer of 2015 a few months after release of the encyclical.
At that same time, the CCC sponsored a unique reflection and dialogue among bishops, lawmakers and staff to discuss the Pope’s Encyclical. Ever since this early work, the CCC brought a distinct perspective to discussions on environmental questions by lifting up the moral dimensions of these issues and the needs of the most vulnerable among us.
“Laudato Si’ awoke urgent moral imperatives and valuable policy implications that must be considered in the public square,” said CCC Director of Education and Environmental Stewardship Ray Burnell.
“Echoing Pope Francis’ message to the peoples of the world, the CCC consistently advocates public policies that place people at the center of a renewed commitment to be good stewards of the planet entrusted to our care,” he said.
The CCC has proved successful in campaigning for laws that have reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, promote renewable clean energy, provide safe and affordable drinking water in all communities, educate K-12 environmental literacy, and provide for supplemental environmental projects. (For a listing of environmental legislation the CCC has supported since the release of Ladauto Si’, click here.)
The Conference is also currently working on nine active bills that promotes integral ecology, improves air quality, assures a clean water supply, and safeguards environmental health.
“Each Californian, every elected official, is called upon to embrace an ecological vocation. Together we must address environmental issues with an integrated approach that combats poverty, restores dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protects nature,” Burnell said.