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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Faith Activists Deliver Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change to Catholic Members of Congress; Urge Passage of ‘Healthy Climate and Family Security Act’

For Immediate Release
September 16, 2015

Patrick Carolan, Franciscan Action Network,
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network,

Faith Activists Deliver Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change to Catholic Members of Congress; Urge Passage of ‘Healthy Climate and Family Security Act’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American faith activists today delivered 166 copies of the Pope’s “climate change” encyclical to every Catholic member of the US Congress. In an accompanying letter, the activists asked the lawmakers to act on Pope Francis’ call to action on global warming by supporting HR 1027, “The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act.”

See below for the full text of the letter submitted to House and Senate Catholics from the Franciscan Action Network and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. 

“We are reaching out to Catholic lawmakers today because – right now – they can take the kind of bold action the Pope is calling for worldwide on climate change,” said Patrick Carolan, director of the Franciscan Action Network. “Congress has a moral obligation to act, and Catholic lawmakers should – like the Pope – lead on this issue.”

Carolan called on the members of Congress to support HR 1027. The bill, introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), would cap US carbon emissions, require fossil fuel companies to pay a fee to pollute, and then rebate the collected revenue back to all Americans in equal-sized quarterly “carbon dividend” payments. 

This so-call “cap-and-dividend” approach to climate policy has been growing in popularity in recent years in Congress and across the country. The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act currently has 27 House co-sponsors.

“The Pope in his encyclical calls for a morally thoughtful and socially fair solution to climate change,” said Mike Tidwell, a Presbyterian activist and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “In our view, HR 1027 is both an effective tool for reducing carbon pollution and a just tool that makes sure vulnerable Americans actually prosper during the transition to clean energy.”

Copy of the letter delivered today to all Catholic Members of Congress, along with the Pope's encyclical:

September 16, 2015 

Dear Member of Congress, 

As you know, Pope Francis is coming to the United States next week, speaking before Congress the morning of September 24th. One of the main issues he will be speaking about is the urgent problem of climate change. Indeed, Pope Francis has detailed his thoughts about this crisis in his recently released papal encyclical called Laudato Si’. It is our honor to provide you with a complimentary copy of this profound document. 

In his encyclical, released in June, the Pope writes: “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming, or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.” 

We believe Laudato Si’ is a book that people from all walks of life should take time to study. Of course, this especially includes Catholic legislators such as yourself. Pope Francis calls on all people to take action to combat the injustice of climate change. As a legislator, you have a particularly great opportunity to address this issue by advancing fair and effective legislation in Congress to begin de-carbonizing our national economy. 

This is why we want to bring a particular piece of legislation to your attention. The Franciscan Action Network and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network – as well as scores of other regional and national organizations – are supporting HR 1027, “The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act.” It was introduced earlier this year by Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and is now co-sponsored by 27 other House members. The bill would create an easy-to-enforce “upstream” cap on carbon fuels in the U.S. economy. It would also rebate 100% of the collected auction revenues back to all American citizens in the form of an equal-sized, quarterly “dividend” check. Under this bill, virtually all Americans – including poor and middle-class Americans – are protected financially during the transition toward cleaner energy.

We urge you to join in co-sponsoring this bill or, in the Senate, in supporting the upcoming introduction of a companion bill. You can read the House bill’s text and find out more about it at Meanwhile, we hope you will find Laudato Si’ as moving and impactful as we did. 


Patrick Carolan
Franciscan Action Network

Mike Tidwell
Chesapeake Climate Action Network


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. We’re building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions.

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