WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims and others reacted vigorously and emotionally to President Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.
While leaders of the so-called religious left were overwhelmingly critical of the move, conservatives were somewhat divided.
Many who have welcomed other actions by the administration — such as the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the rolling back of contraceptive health insurance coverage — were deeply concerned about the impact of the decision, especially on the world’s poor.
Some others, however, skeptical of the science that the climate is actually changing or believing that God will take care of the planet, praised the withdrawal.
The following is a sampling of early reaction:
Patrick Carolan, executive director, Franciscan Action Network
“When large countries like the U.S. deny the reality of the climate crisis and pull out of commitments holding us accountable for doing our part to curb global temperature rise, we are turning our backs on the poor and vulnerable, which goes directly against our Franciscan-Christian values.”
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, director of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Before the decision was announced, Sanchez Sorondo told the Italian daily La Repubblica: “If Donald Trump really decides to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord it will be a disaster for everyone.”
At their historic meeting last week, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” which warns of the grave consequences caused by climate change, and the president said he promised to read it.
“If he really does (pull out), it would be a huge slap in the face for us,” Sanchez Sorondo, who like the pope is from Argentina, said.
Asma Lateef, director, Bread for the World Institute
“The world will not be able to end hunger without addressing climate change. Unfortunately, President Trump’s actions today have made it that much more difficult to reach this goal.”
Robert Bank, president and CEO, American Jewish World Service
“We stand proudly as Jews who cherish the Earth to object in the strongest terms to the President’s shortsighted and damaging decision. As American Jews, we will continue to raise our voices in solidarity with the people worldwide who have done the least to cause global warming but who suffer the most.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
“We implore the Trump Administration to reverse this decision and advance policies that will provide for meaningful climate solutions, to both adapt to the effects of climate change, and to mitigate its effects for the future.”
Bishop Oscar Cantú , chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic 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. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”
Tomás Insua, executive director, Global Catholic Climate Movement
“Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a backward and immoral action. Catholics are saddened and outraged that Trump is not listening to Pope Francis after their meeting last week. Still, the world will continue to accelerate climate action, despite the White House’s retrograde stance.”
Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, national organizer and spokesperson, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action
“We will continue to take hopeful action to address climate change and to love our neighbors both here and around the world. As we do, we reject your disdain for the well-being of those suffering from the impacts of a changing climate. We bear witness to your moral failure, and we will not forget it.”
Parliament of the World’s Religions
“The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective. Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible. Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future. … Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death. Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.”