In 17 days, the U.N. climate change summit, COP26, is set to begin in Glasgow, Scotland. The two-week (Oct. 31-Nov. 12) conference, delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic, has long been billed as a critical checkpoint in the global effort to limit the planet's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times — a key threshold to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Some 20,000 delegates, and thousands more activists and advocates, are expected to attend COP26, which is being hosted by the United Kingdom along with Italy. Count many Catholics — albeit no longer the pope — and religious leaders and activists among them.
Although some may question why the faith community should be concerned about what happens in the often complex, confusing and jargon-filled world of international climate negotiations, Catholics who will be in Glasgow say there are many reasons for people of faith to pay attention to the proceedings.
To Luz Gallegos — executive director of TODEC Legal Center, an immigrant rights group in Southern California's Inland Empire — the region's Catholic diocese, coupled with public health leaders and community groups, was instrumental in helping her organization dispel misinformation and increase access to the vaccine in the region.
When considering the United States' major religious groups, Latino Catholics are among the most vaccinated. The Pew Research Center found that 82% of Catholic adults said they were at least partially vaccinated as of August — data that included 86% of Latino Catholics and 79% of white Catholics.
To Jonathan Calvillo, a sociology of religion professor at Boston University, Catholic social teaching serves as an "important theological foundation" for Latino Catholics in "addressing the pandemic as a matter that is affecting the most vulnerable."
As Luz Gallegos hosted a March workshop informing agricultural workers about the COVID-19 vaccine, she held up two photos — one of her late uncle, a missionary Catholic priest, and the other of a beloved local pastor. Both died of COVID-19.
NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters talks about the hypocrisy of some politicians and religious leaders who have built their careers in large part on their pro-life credentials now refusing to stand up to anti-vaxxers.
ICYMI: Pope Francis will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the Vatican on Oct. 29, the White House confirmed.
ICYMI: Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the Archdiocese for Military Services in the U.S., issued a statement supporting service members who have refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on religious grounds.