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Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Eco-Justice Report: February 2016

March 4, 2016

Over the past six months, Mercy has:

• advocated with other faith groups with the US Congress to ensure funding for the Green Climate Fund, which will assist poor nations with mitigating and adapting to climate change.

• welcomed 30 students from 6 Mercy colleges and universities to Washington, DC, in August to learn about our focus on sustainability and to advocacy with Congress on climate change. They urged support for the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 32% of 2005 levels by 2030. Similarly, students from a Mercy-sponsored high school in Louisville, KY, came to DC Feb. 22-26 and students from the College of Saint Mary are coming to DC March 6-10.

• participated in climate fasts in Washington, DC, and Providence, RI, prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the US. Sisters wanted to call attention to the pope’s call to world leaders to address climate change.

• worked with an interfaith working on extractive industries to stand in solidarity with communities in Latin America impacted by mining. We have attended meetings with representatives from the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network and from the group Iglesia y Mineria (Church and Mining) when they’ve come to DC.

• signed onto a letter thanking President Obama for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried extra-dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico.

• participated in climate marches in Belize; Providence, Rhode Island; Omaha, Nebraska; and Rochester, New York in advance of the international climate talks outside Paris.

• supported highway billboards with the message: “Standing with Pope Francis: Caring for our Common Home.”

• signed onto letters calling for justice for residents of Flint, Michigan, whose water supply was contaminated with lead for over a year before action was taken. Sisters in Michigan are also speaking out about other instances of environmental injustices in their state, where polluting plants are located in predominately poor communities of African-Americans.

• continued to facilitate the teachings of the Awakening the Dreamer/Changing the Dream Symposium at local community colleges, religious communities and as an on-call program.

• Since Laudato Si was published, offered “kick offs” for groups wanting to do in-depth study and led study groups. We have about 30 Mercy International Reflection Process small groups throughout the Institute.

In addition:

• Sister Ana Siufi of Argentina talked about Laudato Si at an environmental law congress in the capital of her province.

• Mercy Investment Services has been engaging businesses in climate change action, including encouraging them to sign pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to be sure that their talk about the need to address climate change is in line with their advocacy with lawmakers.

• The Mid-Atlantic Community – which makes up part of Pennsylvania and New York State – has joined Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, which assists congregations and religious communities with greening their properties and advocating with lawmakers.

• Sister Mary Pendergast had the opportunity in July to go on a pilgrimage to the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. “This was truly a transformative experience,” she writes. “Both the breadth and depth of the industries’ impact is hard to convey, but Francis’ call to feel the pain of the dry Earth as our own, was not lost.” She also committed civil disobedience (she got arrested) to protest an expansion of a fracked-gas pipeline and a new methane gas power plant in the state of Rhode Island. And she is participating in state-wide hearings on a proposal to build a Liquid Natural Gas storage tank in the Port of Providence, within a 14-mile radius of 3 core urban schools, the city hospitals and the economically poor of the city.

In the next 6 months, we will be speaking out against fracking and other natural gas infrastructure, particularly participating in’s global Break Free campaign that you can read about here.

The film This Changes Everything with Naomi Klein, will be offered to the public as a reflection for Earth Day. This film is available from iTunes for a very reasonable price. It tells the truth about where we are in terms of climate change, but it also captures the uprising of resistance of the people…a cause for hope in the face of it all.

Marianne Comfort
Institute of the Americas Justice Team