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United States Catholic Conference’s Environmental Justice Program


Abstract In an effort to help the United States Catholic Church develop the capacity to meet the environmental challenge, the United States Catholic Conference’s (USCC) Environmental Justice Program (EJP) has developed a threefold pastoral strategy that is rooted in the spiritual, sacramental, and social justice traditions of the Catholic Church. Developed in response to Pope John Paul II’s 1990 charge to Catholics to care for nature as God’s creation, this strategy entails integrating environmental concerns into the lives of Catholic people in the United States, connecting ecological and social justice issues, and addressing environmental matters at the local level. To implement this pastoral strategy, specific programs have been established in the areas of education and outreach, leadership development, regional project funding, and public policy. Environmental issues are addressed in relation to the Church’s scripture, theology, prayer, worship, and ministry, in order to facilitate the recognition of divine presence in creation and in order to enable United States (US) Catholic people to commit to caring for nature as God’s gift to humanity.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location United States of America
Duration of Project 1993–Present
History The National Catholic Rural Life Conference’s (NCRLC) involvement with rural and agricultural issues led the United States (US) bishops to address broader environmental concerns in the late 1980s. In 1990, a symposium was held to discuss how the USCC could attend to these concerns. That same year, Pope John Paul II broached the topic in his “World Day of Peace” message, The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility. In 1991, the US bishops reiterated the Pope’s environmental concern by issuing their own statement, Renewing the Earth, which helped prepare the way for the USCC’s official membership in the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) and the establishment of the USCC Environmental Justice Program.
Partner Organizations National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)
National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC)
Campaign for Human Development (CHD)
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW)
Long-Term Goals To help the US Catholic Church and US Catholics address contemporary ecological concerns by working within the framework of the Catholic tradition at various levels.
Bibliography Walter E. Grazer, “Strategy for Environmental Engagement: Building a Catholic Constituency” in Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans, eds. Dieter T. Hessel and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Cambridge, Mass.: Center for the Study of World Religions; Harvard University Press, 2000) 578–87.
Additional Research Resources None Listed.
Contact Information United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Environmental Justice Program
Office of Social Development and World Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20017–1194
Ph:       202.541.3000