Archbishop Blase Cupich is bringing home the Pope’s message of caring for the environment.
“We have to realize, in all humility, we have this earth on loan in this generation, and we have to make sure we pass it on to the next generation,” Cupich said at a news conference Friday.
The leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago appeared Friday with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy at Old St. Mary’s School in the South Loop, where a new building is powered, in part, by solar panels on the roof.
McCarthy said the archdiocese is “answering the Pope’s call”by signingon to the agency’s Energy Star program.
“They’ve become the first U.S. archdiocese to commit to benchmarking and tracking energy, water and emission performance,” she said. We hope they’re setting an example for faith communities across the country to follow.”
Their joint message of environmental conservation and concern over climate change comes after Pope Francis authored an environmental encyclical calling for “a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
Cupich said all Catholics should consider the matter significant.
“This is a moral issue about being good stewards of the limited resources in our common home on this planet,” he said, adding that the poorest are the most affected by environmental disasters.
Pope Francis and Cupich, who was appointed by Francis, aren’t the first leaders to discuss environmental issues.
Cupich said the late Cardinal Francis George “got the ball rolling” on the partnership with the EPA.
And Pope Benedict, who was also called the “Green Pope,” wrote and spoke about the environmental awareness and installed solar panels in the Vatican.
But Pope Francis is putting issues such as pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity at the forefront, said Mark Potosnak, a professor of environmental science at DePaul University.
“People that were looking for an excuse to tune out the message now no longer have that excuse,” Potosnak told the Sun-Times in a telephone interview.