By: Ellen Teague
On Saturday, marking the 100th day of the Trump administration, Catholics joined the wider climate movement for a massive family-friendly march through the streets of Washington, DC and across the country. “We will pray with our feet” they said, “and stand up for all that we love, urging Congress and the Trump administration to take bold action against the injustice of the climate crisis”.
An estimated 200,000 took part in the Washington march against the Trump administration's attitude towards climate change. It moved from Congress to the Washington Monument past the White House. Mr Trump has called climate change a hoax, and has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. Hundreds of sister marches were held across the country in a show of solidarity. In Washington, marchers denounced the Trump administration for signing executive orders that have slashed policies that flight climate change, all in the name of a coal-focused “energy revolution”. In his first 100 days, he has undone several of his predecessor's environmental regulations in the name of boosting American industry and energy.
Catholics gathered for Mass at St Dominic’s parish in Washington before the march. One banner read, ‘The Vatican went solar, why not the US?’. Groups included Global Catholic Climate Movement, Catholic Climate Covenant, Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Maryknoll Missionaries, Franciscans, Mercy Sisters, Catholic Worker and the Sojourners Community. Given the United States’ global role, any negative shifts in its climate policy could severely harm humanity’s ability to prevent catastrophic climate disruption. Catholic voices said, “we join Pope Francis in calling for bold action to care for the poor, for our children, and for all of God’s creation”. The faith section of the climate march had banners with quotes from Laudato Si’ such as ‘The use of highly polluting fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – need to be replaced without delay’ and ‘Hear both the cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor’.
Religious sisters who marched in Washington included the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Michigan. The Adrian Dominicans, which has made a commitment to "live simply and sustainably for the sake of the whole Earth community," has a long history of environmental activism that includes alternative investing, interfaith alliances and physical changes to their campus and community life. The day before the climate march, Sr Maryann Agnes Mueller, justice and peace coordinator for the Felician Sisters of North America, planned to be part of a lobbying group organised by the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Catholic Climate Covenant to meet with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill to urge support for environmental protection and climate change legislation. Sr Mueller said she had come to understand that all things are interconnected. "How we treat the environment is a barrier to peace in the world," she said. The Director of the Columban Advocacy and Outreach Office in Washington, Scott Wright, led the opening prayer of the lobby day.
A solidarity march was held in Manila, the Philippines, and included Columban missionaries. Banners included ‘Quit Coal’ and ‘Solutions not Pollution’.
For more information on the Global Catholic Climate Movement see: