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US Bishops Speak Out on Climate Pact and Health Care

Participants look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference at Le Bourge, France, in this Dec. 8, 2015, file photo. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, said in a June 1 statement President Donald Trump must honor the nation’s commitment to the Paris agreement to protect the planet. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Stephane Mahe, Reuters)

 

Troubled by President’s Withdrawal from Climate Pact

 
WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Donald Trump’s decision “not to honor the U.S. commitment” to the Paris climate agreement “is deeply troubling,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values,” Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said in a statement released shortly after the president made his announcement in the White House Rose Garden.

“President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities,” the bishop said after Trump announced the U.S. will withdraw immediately from the Paris accord.

“The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts,” Bishop Cantu said. “I can only hope that the president will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”

Trump said the climate accord “is less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the United States.”

He said he wants to create a “level playing field” and establish the “highest standard of living, highest standard of environmental protection.”

Bishop Cantu said that although the Paris agreement is not the only possible mechanism for addressing global carbon mitigation, the lack of a current viable alternative is a serious concern.

He said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis “and the entire Catholic Church have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation.”

Before Trump made his announcement, Bishop Cantu issued a statement saying the United States had an obligation to honor the Paris agreement to protect “our people and our planet” and “mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.” He urged Trump to honor the accord.
 

Concerned That Health Care Be Accessible to Everyone

 
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Members of the U.S. Senate “have a grave obligation” to make sure their health care reform bill respects life, provides access to adequate health care “for all” and is “truly affordable,” the chairmen of four U.S. bishops’ committees said in a letter to senators.

As the Senate takes up health care reform, it “must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the House bill that will affect low-income people – including immigrants – as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew,” the chairmen said, reiterating key moral principles they urged be in the U.S. House bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

By a four-vote margin May 4, the House passed the American Health Care Act to replace the Obama administration’s health care law.

Senate Republicans have been urged to pass health care legislation before the congressional recess at the end of July.

After House passage of its measure, the U.S. bishops “noted the positive aspects” of the bill, including “critical life protections” for the unborn, the letter said, but the measure “contains many serious flaws” the Senate must act to change, it added.

The letter, dated June 1, was signed by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice Chairman and Human Development; and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration.

“Most troubling are unacceptable changes to Medicaid that reports indicate will leave millions of additional people uninsured in the years ahead,” the letter said.

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