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As ocean temps hit record, Vatican hosts discussions on climate change, offers resources

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“EWTN News Nightly” host Tracy Sabol speaks with Dr. Erin Lothes, a Catholic environmental theologian and senior manager of the Laudato Si’ Animators Program with the Laudato Si’ Movement, on on May 9, 2024. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly” screen shot

CNA Staff, May 14, 2024 / 14:52 pm (CNA).

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service released data showing that April was the hottest month on record for global sea surface temperatures. It was the 13th consecutive month that temperatures hit a record high of 68.97 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The report comes as the Vatican hosts a summit this week on climate change, bringing together politicians, civic leaders, lawmakers, and researchers from around the world.

The three-day conference from May 15–17 titled “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience” will be held at the Casina Pio IV, the seat of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, which sits in the Vatican Gardens. It will feature a series of roundtable discussions and culminate in the signing of a new international protocol that will be submitted to the United Nations.

Pope Francis has been vocal about the need for Catholics to take responsibility for the health of the environment, releasing two apostolic exhortations regarding the topic: Laudato Si’ and Laudate Deum.

In light of the alarming data about ocean temperatures, “EWTN News Nightly” host Tracy Sabol on May 9 spoke to Dr. Erin Lothes, a Catholic environmental theologian and senior manager of the Laudato Si’ Animators Program with the Laudato Si’ Movement.

“The ocean has now broken temperatures every day for more than a year,” she explained, emphasizing that this is “absolutely a big concern,” as it “causes suffering around the world.”

“It reduces biodiversity and diminishes fisheries and huge numbers of people globally depend on fish for their food, for their protein, and also for their livelihoods,” Lothes added. 

Lothes referenced Laudato Si’ in which “the pope reminds us that we all have a moral responsibility to care for creation.”

“He says, ‘This is neither optional nor secondary for every Christian,’” she explained. “And in Laudate Deum he strongly reminds us that we need to take action. We need to raise our voices and work for change.”

“He describes this in Laudato Si’ as ‘civic and political love,’ which is a wonderful way of looking at how we enact our love for each other by raising our voices, sharing our values, and calling for the change that we need in our energy systems so that it truly can be healthy for all people.”

She pointed out that Catholics have a “tremendous opportunity to take action” thanks to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. The platform — an initiative of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development — provides resources for the Church to achieve real and lasting solutions to environmental problems. 

The platform offers guides and templates that can be used for churches, institutions, communities, and families to map out a path of action. Users can also take a self-assessment that is customized to their unique situation to help them understand where they stand today in terms of how they’re caring for the environment and actions they can take to start doing more. 

There are also hundreds of resources provided on the platform on different environmental topics that can be useful for spreading awareness. Users can connect with other participants and take part in events around the world.

The full “EWTN News Nightly” interview with Lothes can be viewed below.


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