The Diocese of Burlington has joined with other U.S. Catholic institutions in formally expressing support for action that addresses climate change.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne signed the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration, which calls for the United States to return to the Paris Agreement and join other nations in establishing a framework to reduce carbon emissions.

In 2015, the leaders of 195 nations adopted the Paris Agreement that established a framework for nations to reduce carbon emissions to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. The Holy See and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly voiced their support for it.

Last year, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the only nation to do so. In response, the U.S. bishops declared, “The president’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement is deeply troubling.”

“Creation care is a priority of the Diocese of Burlington as it is for many who live within the Green Mountain State,” the bishop said. “By signing the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration, the Vermont Catholic community joins Catholics throughout the country in saying that action must be taken to protect the planet and all who call it home.”

Organized by Catholic Climate Covenant and backed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the declaration calls climate change “an urgent moral issue because it compromises the future of our common home, threatens human life and human dignity, and adds to the hardships already experienced by the poorest and most vulnerable people both at home and abroad.”

“The signatures of Church leaders like myself to the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration reiterate that Catholic teaching and values transcend politics,” Bishop Coyne said. “As Catholics, we are concerned about the future of the world because it is God’s creation and because the state of the planet is directly connected to the livelihood of those who live on it. I hope to work to depolarize the issue of climate care by emphasizing that it is of concern to everyone, especially people of faith.”

Bishop Coyne encourages individual parishes and other Catholic groups to read and sign the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration as a sign of their ongoing commitment to care for creation.

In the Diocese of Burlington, officials have encouraged the use of valuable resources developed by groups such as the Catholic Climate Covenant, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Catholic Relief Services and the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Office of Justice, Peace and Human Development. Additionally, the Diocese has established a relationship with the public-purpose, energy-service company, Commons Energy, to bring affordable, energy-efficiency audits and projects to diocesan buildings and the Diocese has worked with the Chittenden Solid Waste District to educate about and put into practice proper waste reduction and disposal management practices.

Parishes and deaneries have been encouraged to form Creation Care Teams with the Catholic Climate Covenant for continued education, prayer and action resources related to creation care.

Several creation care initiatives were begun in the Diocese during the 2017 Year of Creation.

Interested groups can learn about them on the Vermont Catholic website and contact the Mission Outreach office at outreach@vermontcatholic.org for support in implementing them.

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