"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," he said.
"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."
Catholic Relief Services, a global Catholic aid agency, said that the decision of a world power to renege on promises to cut carbon emissions and pollution could result in higher temperatures and ultimately hurt the world's poor who are the most vulnerable to climate change.
"As an international humanitarian organization, we are confronted with the realities of climate change every day and see the devastating impact on the lives of the people we serve," Bill O'Keefe, vice president for advocacy and government relations for CRS, stated on Thursday.
For instance, CRS noted, "in Bangladesh, rising sea levels are encroaching on water tables and swallowing coastal homes. In Central America, coffee farmers are losing their crops due to more frequent drought and because warmer temperatures help pests thrive."
Cardinal Turkson said on Wednesday that he respected Trump's decision but hopes for future dialogue and a change of policy.
"We will still respect the sovereign decision of any sovereign state," he said. "We just hope in this regard that even this decision will not be the last."
In February, Bishop Cantu had joined Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic justice and human development committee, and the president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services Sean Callahan in writing a letter to new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, exhorting him to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement.
"In 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops affirmed that funding for climate change related adaptation and mitigation programs as part of the Paris agreement – especially through the GCF – is urgently needed if we are to meet our common and differentiated responsibilities for the effects of climate change," they stated. The U.S. must also effort to reduce its own carbon emissions, they added.
"The Paris agreement is a key step towards both these goals," they said.
In lecture at Boston College in the fall of 2015, Cardinal Turkson explained that, according to the encyclical Laudato Si, developed nations should shoulder a greater burden in fighting climate change than poorer, developing countries.
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Pope Francis, he said, "insists that the global north has been a disproportionate consumer of creation's goods and contributor to ecological harm; therefore it must repay its 'ecological debt' to the global south."
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.