Gomez: Amid climate worries are 'human ecology' issues, like homelessness

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reaction swirled around President Donald Trump’s June 1 decision to withdraw
the country from the Paris climate accord, Los Angeles received a report on
“the dramatic increase in the numbers of our brothers and sisters who are
homeless,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.

“Each night in the county
of Los Angeles — nearly 58,000 people have no place to call home,” the
archbishop wrote June 6 in Angelus, the online
news site of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

“Personally, I am worried
about the quality of life here in Los Angeles. Every day, it seems the distance
grows wider between those who have what they need for a dignified life and
those who do not,” he said, adding that the lack of affordable housing “is
directly related to ‘the human ecology.'”

“Human life and human
nature must be protected and cared for — our rights and dignity, the needs of
our bodies, minds and spirit,” the archbishop said.

Trump’s action on the Paris
accord “provoked deep concern everywhere about the future of the earth we
live on,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Concern about global warming and
climate change is real. The U.S. bishops have long supported the need for
prudent action and dialogue about the impacts of climate change, especially as
they affect the poorest and most vulnerable people.”

“But,” he added, “there remain sharp
debates — scientific, technological, economic and political — about how
severe the crisis is and how best to address the challenges created by carbon
dioxide emissions.”

Archbishop Gomez noted
that Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si'” strongly criticizes the “‘cap
and trade’ policies used by states like California and also the federal
government. The pope says buying and selling ‘carbon credits’ is ‘a ploy’ the
wealthy use to pursue their economic self-interests and their habits of ‘excessive

He added: “Many
authorities believe the world is already well on its way toward the goal of a
global economy that will be far less dependent on carbon-generating energy
sources.” Others point to progress in the areas of “green” jobs and the already-declining
costs of renewable energy sources, he added.

“The natural
environment must also be protected and cared for. We are not put here to
consume what we need and throw away what we do not, with no regard for the
health of our communities or the needs of future generations,” he said.

Like the debates over how
to address climate change, opinions differ on the causes of homelessness and
how best to respond, Archbishop Gomez said. Both issues require “prayer
and thoughtful action,” he emphasized.

“The lack of affordable
housing is directly related to ‘the human ecology,'” he said. “This
is true in the poorest nations of the world, but sadly it is also true here in
the wealthiest.”

“In many of our neighborhoods
we now see makeshift ‘tent cities’ being established on sidewalks and
boulevards and other public spaces,” Archbishop Gomez said of Los
Angeles. “It is sad to see people living in these tents and all around
them to see the signs — clothing, furniture, bikes and toys — that once these
people had a home, but now they do not.”

He said he worries “we are
getting accustomed to these sights in our city. We cannot allow ourselves to
accept a Los Angeles where sidewalks become permanent residences for our

“The earth is our
common home and everyone on earth deserves a place that he or she can call ‘my
home,'” Archbishop Gomez said. “For me, the housing crisis is a
reminder that in God’s creation, there is an ecology of the human person and an
ecology of the natural environment.”

People cannot think about one of
those issues without considering the other one, he said. “As God spoke and
the universe was created, he breathed his Spirit of life into every person. God
made this earth, not for its own sake, but to be a home for the human family.”

“Human life and human
nature must be protected and cared for — our rights and dignity, the needs of
our bodies, minds and spirit,” Archbishop Gomez said.


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