How the Pope’s Climate Message Is Inspiring Los Angeles Latinos to Take Action
Pope Francis’ encyclical about climate change resonated with people of every religion and ethnic background – but it may have made a particularly strong impression on Latinos. Not only are many Latinos devout Catholics, but Latino populations also tend to be more vulnerable to climate change. As this Yes! Magazine article reports, pollution disproportionately impacts communities of color in southern Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and other cities across the country.
In his encyclical, the Pope called on all global citizens to care for the most vulnerable among us by fighting climate change. He framed it as a moral obligation – and that has struck a chord with many people in ways other environmental messages have not. His words have inspired Catholic parishes in heavily Latino (and heavily polluted) parts of Los Angeles to hold rallies and circulate petitions calling for climate justice. Priests are seeing the need to engage their parishioners on the topic of climate change. They are hopeful that the encyclical will open the minds of doubters and help them see this as a moral rather than a political issue.
By Jasmine Aguilera, contributor to Yes! Magazine
Catholic environmentalists are channeling the power of the Pope’s words into action.
Two young men performed their songs on acoustic guitars in Spanish while the rally chanted along in front of St. Basil Catholic Church in Los Angeles.
Even though not everyone in the crowd of around 30 people knew Spanish, the message transcended language: protect the most vulnerable from the effects of climate change.
After the June 18 release of “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and humanity’s responsibility to protect it, young Catholics decided to host a rally to spread awareness of climate change’s effect on the poor, particularly Latinos in Southern California. Some Catholics are hopeful that events like this, inspired by the encyclical, will spread and lead to a new emphasis on climate action within the faith.
Members of the youth group Pastoral Juvenil of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles gathered in front of St. Basil on the morning of June 27 to share what was written in the encyclical and encourage onlookers to participate.
“When I started working on the issue of environmental protection at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena, it did not stir the emotions as it does now,” says Allis Druffel, who spoke at the rally. “It is the hope of my colleagues and myself that Los Angeles Catholic churches and households will become real leaders in what Pope Francis is calling for in ‘Laudato Si’ – to tackle the injustices of poverty, poor health, and poor economic situations while caring for all of creation, both of which go hand in hand.”
Image credit: Allis Druffel