Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, led a group of hundreds of local religious leaders and scientists appealing for action on climate change on Wednesday.
O’Malley was among the 500-plus signatories to endorse an appeal that was released Wednesday calling for the climate crisis to be addressed “with the boldness and urgency it requires, with substantive and immediate action.”
“Climate change is an ecological and moral emergency that impacts all other aspects of our shared lives and requires us to work together to protect our common home,” read the appeal.
The release of the appeal marked the third anniversary of the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, according to a statement from the archdiocese of Boston. In that letter to the worldwide church, Pope Francis framed the issue of climate change in terms of its effect on the poor, those most vulnerable to the storms, destruction of ecosystems, and mass migration that could be a consequence.
On Wednesday, O’Malley, speaking at a press conference in Braintree, said the pope’s encyclical drove home the idea that “while the state of the environment is . . . a challenge affecting all of, those most in the greatest of danger are the poor, the vulnerable, those throughout the international community who lack the basic necessities of life.”
“In our local communities we hope that we can make a difference by advocating for responsible policies, educating people of all ages about the importance of environmental awareness and each day making choices that respect and support the sustainability of the world around us,” said O’Malley.
Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, the associate minister for ecological justice at Bethel AME Church, echoed O’Malley’s sentiments, saying, “Those of us in power have a moral responsibility to our most vulnerable citizens.”
“Yes it is scientifically clear that we are facing a crisis of gargantuan proportions,” she said at Wednesday’s press conference.
Philip Duffy, the president of Woods Hole Research Center, said the earth’s warming is “having consequences now.” The challenge of climate change, he said, has economic, political, and moral dimensions. Climate change consequences include increases in extreme weather, sea-level rise, and water and food scarcity, he said.
“Those impacts . . . will certainly get worse in the future as climate change progresses,” he said.Lisa Wangsness of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.