How The San Diego Catholic Diocese Is Raising Awareness About Climate Change
Speaker 1: 00:00 July marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of a campaign by Pope Francis to rally the world's 1.2 billion Catholics in the fight against climate change. The Pope's 2015 in cyclical on the environment was titled Laudato Si on care for our common home as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk. Round table host Mark Sauer interviewed father emit Pharell. He's the priest charged with implementing the Roman Catholic diocese of San Diego's Laudato. Si. Here's that interview. Speaker 2: 00:32 Father Farrell, welcome to midday edition. Speaker 3: 00:34 Thank you. Good to be here. Speaker 2: 00:36 Pope Francis made it clear in his encyclical that climate change is the greatest threat to life our earth has ever seen and that it is caused by humans. And as a priest, the pope said he stands in protection and care for his flock, especially the poorest. So you leave the San Diego diocese implementation of Laudato. Si. Tell us what that means here in San Diego. Speaker 3: 00:58 Well, I'm the director of what we call the creation care team ministry, which is the outreach to the, what do we have? 97 or 98 parishes. So I'm trying to reach as many as possible and we've gotten to about a third of them through workshops or homilies. Speaker 2: 01:13 Okay. And some of the initiatives at the San Diego who dices is embarked on in implementing this call from the pope. Speaker 3: 01:20 I guess the big one would be the solar panels. Over half of our churches parishes have solar panels and that started probably four years ago. And they're still working, you know, giving incentives. There's a whole program to help parishes install the solar panels. So that's, that's a big help to their economy. That also lowers the carbon emissions now. Speaker 2: 01:42 So a very practical project in that. Yeah. Now, how have parishioners across San Diego and the Imperial Valley reacted to the pope's call to action? Speaker 3: 01:50 The prisoners themselves usually respond quite well. And I think as time goes along, there's more and more openness to it. I mean that if few people would deny it's true, most people would say, well, what could I do? I'm just one person. But sometimes it's a little hard to get into a parish because there's so many programs going on. Speaker 2: 02:08 But when it comes from the Pope and you have some folks who were reluctant in, if the pope hadn't done this, perhaps would be in the denial category as it were. And does that change their minds? Speaker 3: 02:19 Doesn't seem to because they're, I think, I don't know. Uh, I asked a group of pastors one day, I just said, well, you know, I send out emails and what's going through your mind when you don't answer? And they said, well, it's just another program and we got too many now. But I think also that could be like, they might be a little afraid that it'll divide. They consider it a political issue, which is not, it's very spiritual radio. It's a stewardship of the earth. No, but they don't necessarily see it that way. And if they have a few people say like, don't touch that or that's, that's all a hoax, then that would probably weigh heavy. Speaker 2: 02:55 I see a long as you brought up politics, uh, it hard in our society too at large to distinguish between politics on this issue and, and science and spirituality, uh, Republicans and Democrats. The change on climate change is quite stark. Uh, is the church at least by implication, backing a party with bold plans to curb heat trapping pollution, that would be the Democrats. Speaker 3: 03:19 We are not as a church doing that. I say this is not a partisan issue if not Democrat. It's not Republican, it's not Catholic or Muslim or Jew. It's global and it's human. Francis says I address my words to every living being on the planet. So really it's not more political than anything else of life. No, but it may become that w what? That's not the churches thrust. Speaker 2: 03:41 Okay. And in a, in a, you in the, in the Bishop, uh, in trying to get this message across to priests as they deal with their parishioners, what do you tell them in, in terms of how to talk to congregates about climate change? Speaker 3: 03:53 If I get the chance, I would say that a, as you said, it comes from Fort Francis. It is a church's official teaching and people need to be informed about it and what they can do. That's the basic question. Most people will be saying, well yeah, it's real. You can't deny that, but what can I do? I'm one person and there's a whole concentric circles of you want to start with myself, what do I eat and throw away in a waste and how much energy and so on do I use what? What's my mode of transportation? Do I raise anything that I eat my vegetables and getting rid of that red meat or as whole lot of, then you go to the next circle, which could be the community, which in our case would be a parish, you know, a church. And how about the rest of the parishioners? I mean, is there a way we can reach them? And then there's the far out circle, which is the political, if you want to call it that. I mean, I call it a public voice. Francis says in his article one 79, he says, unless citizens control political power, national, regional, local, it will be impossible to avoid damage to the environment. That's pretty strong statement. Speaker 2: 04:59 It certainly is. Um, now let out of c was the topic of a conference. Both you and San Diego, Bishop Robert McElroy attended late last month. What ideas have you take away from that conference that you could plan and implement here in the San Diego Diocese Speaker 3: 05:15 as ideas? A lot of it is already known to me. Uh, the diocese of Atlantis, archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. They have a climate action plan just for the archdiocese of, uh, Atlanta. And they have gotten grants to implement that in all of their churches in their parishes. But my big takeaway from that three day conference, which our bishop was at, he was the keynote speaker Thursday night. He stayed with us all three days. But my big takeaway was context. Uh, there were about 16 of us from California and we got them together. The last I asked them to come together for a picture. Well then I got their emails so I could, you know, uh, not work with them yet. Work with them. And then also the same thing at the national level. And then there were others, there was a leader from the California Catholic conference, uh, who lobbyists in Sacramento on these issues, all church issues. Uh, by the way, the California Catholic conference just published a 22 page pastoral. I think it's the first state to do so echoing the teachings of law that to see praise be to you, Lord. And now it's up to us to try to get that also out to the pews. Speaker 2: 06:23 Now, as a, as we know that it's been four years since the pope delivered this important message, have you seen in the, in that short time, have you seen a change among, uh, your colleagues across the country, people at conferences such as the one you're describing? Speaker 3: 06:36 I think so. The conference itself was very upbeat. It's kind of like there's change in the air and everyday it's clearer. Every day there's more, uh, news, more people wanting to get on the bandwagon. Speaker 2: 06:49 Well, I've been speaking with Father Emmitt, feral of the diocese of San Diego. Thanks very much, Father Farrell. You're very welcome. Thank you. Speaker 4: 06:59 [inaudible].