The Maryland Catholic Conference held a virtual town hall on February 15 to discuss the responsibility of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to care for creation in Maryland.

The town hall, broadcast live on Facebook and Youtubewas a local response to Pope Francis’ call to “take care of our common home” in his encyclical letter “Laudato Si'”, in which he reminds the faithful of their moral and spiritual responsibilities to care for God’s creation.

“We are not its owners or its masters, but rather its stewards,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, a featured panelist. “It has to be applied locally. If it doesn’t happen locally, it doesn’t.

Some of the topics covered include protecting the Chesapeake Bay, pollution in the city of Baltimore affecting minority health, environmental legislation and policies, building practices, and practical tips for residents.

Maryland State Senator Jill Carter of District 41 spoke about the impact of climate change and pollution in the city of Baltimore.

In Baltimore, asthma hospitalization rates are double the rest of Maryland and three times higher than the US average, she said. Three in five African Americans and Hispanics live in communities with toxic waste sites.

“It was the history of segregation and redlining that created the conditions we have,” Carter noted. “In order to truly establish environmental justice, we must increase educational opportunities and give voice to the communities most affected.”

Robin Clark, an attorney at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said climate change is one of the pressing challenges affecting the bay.

Archbishop William E. Lori discusses environmental responsibilities during the Maryland Catholic Conference’s virtual town hall Feb. 15.

“It makes cleaning the bay more difficult,” she said. “We are seeing more frequent and more severe rainstorms, as well as a higher overall volume of rain.”

According to Clark, one solution to mitigate the flooding that people face in cities, towns and suburban areas is to plant trees and set up treatment plants in those towns and villages, which not only have an effect cooling but also an effect on water quality.

She noted that since 2010, progress has been made across the watershed with the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, in which nitrogen pollution has been reduced by 44 percent. The project, which attempts to improve water quality, will be completed in 2025.

Chris Becraft, a partner at Underwood & Associates in Annapolis, said to restore the ecosystem, building practices must constantly evolve with science and design.

As practical ways families can choose to help the environment, Russell Dickerson, a member of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change at the University of Maryland, suggested planting trees, riding bikes, replacing furnaces geothermal gas and talk to congressional leaders to solve environmental problems. .

Costello applauded Bishop Lori for his commitment to keeping Catholic schools and parishes engaged in environmentally responsible practices such as energy-efficient lighting, entering into power purchase agreements, transforming batches of unused asphalt in green spaces and tree planting.

“Caring for the environment is as much about caring for our common home as it is about protecting the dignity of every human person,” Bishop Lori said. “We remain fully committed to working with our partners to ensure that we do all we can to bring environmental justice and to promote personal responsibility in caring for the gift God has given us to care for in our lifetime.”

WMAR-TV news anchor Jamie Costello moderated the town hall panel and Father Raymond Harris, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Randallstown, led the opening prayer. Delegate Benjamin Brooks was also a featured speaker.

The Catholic Conference of Maryland will host another town hall on the environment with Cardinal Gregory on March 9, 2022. Attendees are to be announced.

Email Priscila González de Doran at [email protected]

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