Journal of Nursing
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Nurses Invite Pope Francis To Meet In US

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Leaders of unions representing leading nurses and other healthcare workers in 18 countries from every major continent are requesting a meeting with Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to the U.S. to discuss ways to work together to combat the alarming health effects of the climate crisis and other environmental degradation.

In an online petition posted July 22, Global Nurses United, is requesting an audience with Pope Francis to discuss:

How nurses and the Vatican can work together to confront the adverse health effects of the climate crisis, environmental degradation, and austerity.

Building an international alliance of nurses and faith leaders to work for more just societies, including recognition that health is a universal human right.

The impetus for the request derives from both the Pope’s recent encyclical on the climate crisis, and the activism of nurses across the globe calling for action to confront the harmful effects, especially on public health, of climate change and a wide range of environmental ills.

“Together the moral authority of the Vatican as evidenced already by Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on climate change, and the high public regard for nurses offers an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate international efforts to redress these health emergencies,” said Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, a leader in the Global Nurses United.

In the encyclical, Pope Francis warned, “some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general."

Additionally, the encyclical notes, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

“I urgently appeal,” wrote the Pope, “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”

Nurses, “who are on front line in taking care of people whose health is directly compromised by these trends should be a part of that dialogue,” said DeMoro.

A central premise for nurses, said DeMoro, is the intrinsic view that “healthcare is a human right, that everyone should have an equal right to health care, not based on ability to pay, socio-economic status, gender, health behavior or country or area of residence. In the U.S. alone, studies have reported a 40 percent increased risk of death for those without health coverage. Lack of health coverage, or excessive cost for care result in numerous adverse health outcomes, delays in needed care, and higher societal costs.”

“Climate disruption has been linked to a wide range of health problems associated with the unexpected spread of contagious disease including Ebola, cholera, bird flu, dengue fever, yellow fever, and other epidemics, malnutrition linked to drought and deforestation, bacteria-related food poisoning, and the escalating occurrence of super storms,” DeMoro noted.

“Fossil fuel pollution, and other environmentally associated contaminants that infect air, rivers, lakes, oceans, and food supply, have been directly linked to dangerous increases in heart and respiratory disorders, cancer, birth defects, skin and gastro-intestinal illness, and other health factors leading to premature death.”

“By working in cooperation with Pope Francis and the Vatican, there is no limit to what we can accomplish to protect patients and all humanity,” DeMoro said.



 
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  • comment #57:Not knowing ayhnting about your and your classmates' schools, ayhnting I might say about them would be speculation. Some Catholic schools did better with addressing the signs of the times. Others isolated themselves and created school cultures to fill the loss of ethnic Catholic enclaves, which I think were one of the main factors in reinforcing cultural Catholicism in the US until the second half of the 20th century.My grammar school, on the other hand, admitted non-Catholics in 1969. That led to my own baptism in 1970. Back in the 50 s when my parents wanted to adopt their baptized-Catholic foster child, the pledge to send her to Catholic school was deemed inadequate. The priest in charge of Catholic Charities insisted they convert to Catholicism, an impossibility because of their previous marriages. While some might say I would be a bad fruit of Vatican II, I stand in comparison to my parents' would-be daughter, who ended up bouncing from Catholic home to Catholic home and the last time I chatted with her in 1983, was a born-again evangelical.In my experience, Vatican II opened the door to me to become a Catholic, enabled me to get a theological degree, and has allowed me to serve as a lay minister for a quarter-century. As a parish liturgist, I see the fruits of those who have engaged the Council and taken advantage of its opportunities. Clearly, people are alienated from post-conciliar Catholicism for a host of reasons, Humanae Vitae probably being the first of them. But sociological surveys in the 70 s did not show that people left in droves because of liturgy.As for today, I have a conservative priest friend who adopts George Weigel as his mentor for Sunday preaching. Not even the document his own bishops produced last year. Go figure.I woud love to sit down with other liturgists and clergy and even Pope Francis/Cardinal O'Malley to get to the bottom of why Catholicism isn't doing as well as we could be in the US. I probably have more questions than ideas. But from the trenches, I've seen a lot in the past 25-40 years. I'm inclined to think we've been too timid rather than too rash.

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Editor-in Chief:
Kirsten Nicole

Editorial Staff:
Kirsten Nicole
Stan Kenyon
Robyn Bowman
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Contributors:
Kirsten Nicole
Stan Kenyon
Liz Di Bernardo
Cris Lobato
Elisa Howard
Susan Cramer