Catholic Climate Covenant hears plea for more Church support for creation in Synodal gatherings

In a report submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of the Vatican’s vision for the Synod on Synodality, “Catholic Climate Covenant heard a resounding cry from people across our various interactions for more institutional Church support and help for care for creation efforts.” 

That is the conclusion in the 10-page report completed recently as part of the organization’s Synodal efforts, which took place over the past six months. Catholic Climate Covenant hosted or was involved in six mostly virtual consultation efforts related to the Synod on Synodality from January to June 2022. Covenant staff listened to different groups in the U.S. Catholic community as they expressed how the Holy Spirit is moving within and through them to live Laudato Si’. 

In small, virtual Living Rooms conversations with people from more than 25 U.S. states, participants said they have implemented Laudato Si’ Action Plans in select ways, but accomplishments are generally the results of inspired parishioners and clergy members rather than a unified diocesan response. Other findings include: 

  • A lack of support from hierarchy, dioceses, parishes on issues of creation care. 
  • A lack of a sense of urgency around climate change.  
  • Frustration over the lack of Catholic institutional support for climate change.  

In an online survey, respondents’ findings include: 

  • Laudato Si’ activities are happening in parishes but they encounter difficulties implementing creation care without leadership support. 
  • To the question “What brings joy?” respondents pointed to seeing progress and collaboration among fellow Catholics on care for creation.
  • To the question “What brings hope?” respondents are hopeful that Catholics would start or continue embracing Laudato Si’. 

In five Synodal Listening Sessions virtually in June, the phrase “uphill battle” came up again and again when speaking about working with priests. Other findings from those gatherings include: 

  • Participants looked toward religious communities, primarily led by women, as examples of how to implement creation care and Laudato Si’.  
  • Religious communities have been true leaders in the implementation of creation care and Laudato Si’.  
  • Consensus that participants encounter significant difficulties implementing creation care ministries without clear support from priests and bishops. 
  • The successful implementation of creation care brought joy to many participants.  
  • There is hope that the Church will take a more unified stance on creation care.  

In responses from Creighton University students, findings include: 

  • All expressed frustration, fear, and uncertainty. Many were concerned about the future and wondered how they could bring children into this world.  
  • Six non-Catholic students said their experiences at Creighton gave them hope because they saw how the university implements Catholic social teaching into tangible climate solutions like fossil fuel divestment. 
  • In contrast, the eight Catholic students felt a disconnect between what they are learning at Creighton and their parishes at home, causing disappointment and frustration.  
  • Each of the Catholic students wrote that in their home dioceses, climate change is not talked about nor recognized as an important aspect of the Catholic faith.  

Catholic Climate Covenant concluded in the report: “Most efforts are led and implemented by dedicated lay Catholic leaders and volunteers in parishes, schools and religious orders. People who are witnessing care for creation and Laudato Si’ efforts being implemented feel joy through those accomplishments. We heard more often, expressions of sorrow and disappointment in the lack of dedicated or consistent support from bishops, priests and other Church leaders to live out the call to care for creation.” 

Read the full report here.

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