Many Dominican Sisters of Hope don’t doubt climate change. Talking to the sisters individually yields stories of climate marches, bee-keeping, monarch butterflies, and various other initiatives to honor and preserve the Earth.
Now they have made their commitment to the Earth official. The Dominican Sisters of Hope, along with the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, and Sparkill (known collectively as the Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration, or OPSCC), have approved a Corporate Stance on Climate Change on behalf of all five congregations.
“We have heard, read, and seen the impact of climate change on the environment, human society, the community of life, and Earth’s systems,” the OPSCC Justice Committee, which is comprised of sister representatives from each congregation, wrote in a January letter.
“It has been challenging to learn about the negative changes in our weather patterns, the acidification of the oceans, the rising sea levels as glaciers and ice sheets shrink, and increasingly violent storms.”
“We witnessed the suffering of many in the community of life as a result of displacement, disease, loss, oppression, and domination.”
The OPSCC Justice Committee in action
The Committee notes that a corporate stance is “an important step in unifying our efforts and voices in the work of climate justice.”
They write, "This corporate stance binds us, individually and corporately, to make decisions that protect our environment, to take actions that make our daily lives less harmful to the environment, and to invite others to understand that protection of Earth systems are essential for insuring a healthy planet for future generations."
The time is rife for such a stance. A group of sisters participated in the People’s Climate March in September 2014, which was aimed at the attention of world leaders gathered in New York City that week. Considered the largest climate march in history, the event was a precursor to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, which aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate from all the nations of the world.
Sisters from the five congregations have already worked together to identify regional and national actions to take together and with those who work for solutions to climate change. Their ideas spanned the personal, the communal, the national, and international. They named behavioral actions, economic actions, political actions, ministerial actions, and spiritual actions and much more to promote justice and healing for Earth.
“The time has come for us to speak as a corporate body on behalf of God’s Creation,” the OPSCC Justice Committee wrote. “May our hearts be open and inspired by the one who breathes life into all of Creation to be courageous co-creators in this, our moment.”
Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration (OPSCC) Corporate Stance on Climate Change:
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations. -Preamble of the Earth Charter
We, the Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration, believe that our present relationship with Earth and the resources provided by Earth are grievously imbalanced and harmful to the planet itself. The impact of human action stresses and overwhelms the self-sustaining, and self-correcting capacities of our environment, narrows bio-diversity, and threatens the capacity of Earth to support future generations.
We recognize that the reality of Global Climate Change negatively impacts the Community of Life in ways that go well beyond our understanding. We recognize that the negative impact on the human community is experienced more forcefully and comprehensively by persons who are living in poverty, living close to the land, and living in fragile ecological ecosystems.
We believe that we are called to protect the vitality, diversity, and uniqueness of Earth and the Community of Life sustained by Earth. This call compels us to act individually, communally, systemically on behalf of Earth, the Community of Life, and all future generations within this sacred community.
1. We commit to lending our individual and collective voice to those efforts, consistent with our Catholic faith and the Dominican search for truth, that seek to mitigate the effects of Climate Change.
2. We commit to changes in lifestyle individually and collectively that will reduce our carbon footprint upon the planet and encourage others to do the same in our homes, at places of work, at the institutions where we have influence and in our communities of worship.
3. We commit to educating ourselves, family, friends, neighbors and colleagues about global warming and ways to address this challenge.
4. We commit to joining like-minded groups to mobilize awareness and action toward a more sustainable future by working for systemic change and legislation to protect the environment and the community of life.
5. We re-commit to responsible investments, supporting the development of sustainable energies and advocating for more environmentally responsible corporate policies and practices.
A copy of the corporate stance is also available here.
Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration represents over 1,000 sisters and associates from Dominican congregations of Roman Catholic Sisters in New York and New Jersey, dedicated to serving God’s people, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Cover image: Flickr: klem@s