by John Aherne, Student Friar , Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province
President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second inaugural address and stressed that our country has everything it needs to turn the tide against global warming and ecological disaster: “youth and drive, diversity and openness, and an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.”
He may as well have been describing what the friars and lay partners of Franciscan Holy Name Province have been doing in the past few months to promote what Pope John Paul II called “an ecological conversion” in our efforts to address climate change
Taking the Plunge for the Chesapeake
Youth and drive—not to mention a capacity for risk—were all over the place as young adults from the Latino community at St. Camillus Parish joined over 200 other brave souls from the local area to raise over $60,000 for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network by taking part in the 8th annual Polar Bear Plunge. The money raised is essential for this grass-roots, non-profit organization to continue to fight for climate justice in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Community.
Making Wind Work
Going from the local to the state level, just a few days later, friars Jacek Orzechowski, OFM and Eric Lopez, OFM stood next to Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley as he proclaimed this year “The Year of the Chesapeake,” and vowed to pass the M.D. Offshore Wind Energy bill. The parishioners of St. Camillus church have been very involved in advocating for this piece of legislation as part of their response to Franciscan Climate Challenge.
Forward on Climate March!
On the national front, last week, on the three-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, leaders of various Franciscan entities in the Northeast of the U.S. sent a letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. They praised him for speaking out on climate change and urged him “to join other elected officials in calling President Obama to host a Presidential Summit on Climate Solutions.” Currently, Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is trying to galvanize its base to take part in the Forward on Climate March on Washington, where thousands of people will seek to make the march the largest climate rally in U.S. History. FAN will continue to urge President Obama to deny the permit for the tar sands pipeline, just as it did at the fall of 2011 in a State Department public hearing on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and at the civil disobedience witness in front of the White House.
Our Global Family
Never forgetting that what we do for our environment at home touches the poorest of our brothers and sisters around the world, we continue to call attention to the impact that our addiction to fossil fuels is projected to have on over one million poor farmers in Central America whose livelihoods are being threatened by the dramatic shifts due to global warming.
And our efforts continue. We invite everyone who is interested to sign up for a free webinar offered by the Franciscan Action Network on Thursday, February 7th from 4 -5 p.m. The Franciscan Action Network has begun organizing on climate change, and on this webinar they will strategize around: Grassroots Organizing, the Inside Game, and the Outside Game. We'll also touch on the magnitude of climate change and several tools for raising awareness. Click here to register.