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Diocese endorses Catholic Climate Covenant

Parishes and families are encouraged to go green

A press release on the Green Bay Diocese website:

Bishop David L. Ricken of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has endorsed the “Catholic Climate Covenant: St. Francis Pledge to Protect Creation and the Poor.”

The covenant was created by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, a membership organization that includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The covenant is rooted in the belief that believers in Jesus Christ have a moral obligation to care for both creation and the poor. This complements the Diocese’s mission, core values and vision, which identify the importance of stewardship – the acknowledgement that all that we have is a gift from God; we are merely stewards.

In his letter to Dan Misleh, director of the Coalition, Bishop Ricken wrote, “You have inspired our own social concerns office and many of our parishes to lead our local efforts on this important issue.”

According to Brother Steve Herro, Social Concerns Director for the Diocese of Green Bay, “The primary thrust of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is to help the Church change minds, hearts, and practices so that we lower our carbon footprint. When carbon emitters in the First World lower their carbon footprint, the poor in the developing world and the poor on our own coasts are less likely to face the effects of extreme climate change. In this regard, the Coalition stands on two very important premises of Catholic social teaching: Care for God’s creation and option for the poor.”

At the local level, the Diocese has been attempting to make the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Green Bay more “green,” but in the last year efforts have stepped up in four specific ways:

1. Changing incandescent lighting (60 watts) to compact fluorescents (14 watts) and installing motion sensor lighting where feasible. Each light consumes 46 fewer watts and each watt averages $.055; averaging a savings of $362.53 per year.

2. Creating natural grass areas to save on fuel costs, maintenance up-keep, and to provide a natural environment for wildlife. The estimated average yearly savings is $8,112.00.

3. Sensitizing people to an elevator’s energy consumption (1,900-15,000 Kilowatts, which is about 3 to 5 percent of a building’s yearly energy consumption).

4. Eliminating plastic water bottles and Styrofoam plates and bowls from supplies, and recycling all plastic, paper, aluminum, metal and fluorescent lights, generating $500 to $700 of income annually.

“Together, all of these efforts work toward reducing our carbon footprint,” say Herro.

To help parishes brainstorm on how to connect their faith and “going green” the Diocese distributed an information packet titled, “Blessed are You, Lord God of all Creation,” to all 159 parishes. It is available at http://sites.google.com/site/stewcreationpacket. The Catholic Climate Covenant is available at http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/. To learn more about coalition, visit http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/.

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