Pope Francis reminds us that being involved in the political process “is one of the highest forms of love, because it is in the service of the common good.” For your reflection as you prepare to go to the polls we offer you some excerpts from A Revolution of Tenderness: A 2016 Election Pope Francis Voter Guide.
“It is my profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us.”—Pope Francis (Common Declaration of Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, May 25, 2014)
The first words of the Bible tell us that God is the creator of heaven and earth. God’s first home for us was a garden, and God’s first vocation for us was to be gardeners who protect, care for, sustain and develop creation.
Pope Francis spoke earlier this year about our global failure to live up to this mission. “Humanity has slapped God in the face,” the Pope said. “We have taken possession of nature and Mother Earth. God always forgives; we humans sometimes forgive; but nature never forgives. I believe that humanity has gone a bit too far. Thank God that today many, many people are talking about it.”
But this isn’t Francis’s issue alone. In fact, it was Pope Benedict—not Francis—whom the media first dubbed the “green pope” for his environmental activism. “If you want to cultivate peace,” Benedict famously said, “protect creation.”
The Catholic Church speaks on issues of faith and science not as some academic exercise, but because these issues affect human flourishing, and we are called by God to defend the dignity of every woman, man, and child.
Just as the Church is unafraid to defend the dignity of the child in the womb, we cannot be afraid to defend the dignity of those who are the victims of a global economy that kills through environmental exploitation, rampant consumerism, and structural inequalities. What many seem to misunderstand, but which Francis, Benedict and the Church get, is that protecting creation is first and foremost a religious and moral issue.
Living simply, protecting creation, and addressing climate change is a response to God’s ancient request that we be good stewards of all that God has given and entrusted to us: clean air, fresh water and fruits of the harvest. Water is a particularly vital issue to address, as many violent conflicts have been linked to water issues, and many future violent conflicts are likely to be linked to water as well.
One tangible way we can protect creation is to reduce air pollution. As Pope Francis writes, “technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
Questions to Consider When Reading About or Listening to Candidates:
● How does each candidate talk about climate change? Does he or she have any policies for addressing this issue?
● What does each candidate say about alternatives to fossil fuels, and jobs associated with them?
This voter guide was put together for your prayerful reflection by the following coalition of national Catholic organizations:
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Faith in Public Life: Catholic Program
Franciscan Action Network
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Pax Christi USA
Pax Christi International
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Extended Justice Team
The complete document can be accessed at https://franciscanaction.org/article/revolution-tenderness-2016-voter-election-guide.