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May 22, 2024

Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Latino Priorities

Hearing the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor

Showing the Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Latino Priorities: Hearing the Cry of Earth and the Poor Video

Pope Francis declared nine years ago in his powerful encyclical Laudato Si’ that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49). It is an idea informed by Francis’ Latin American background, taken from the experience of people living with the tension between reverence for God’s creation and the attraction of economic and technological progress. In the United States, Latino Catholics are among those most concerned with the human and ecological costs of climate change. Climate change is driving current and future waves of migration from Latin America as drought, hurricanes, pollution, and other environmental crises make agriculture unpredictable and land uninhabitable, undermining the lives and dignity of many, especially small farmers and farmworkers.

This Latino Leader Gathering addressed the moral imperative of environmental justice and the urgency of climate issues among U.S. Latinos, considering ways Latin American spirituality and Catholic social thought can inspire us to hear and act on the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” in our own lives, our communities, and our common home. 

This gathering had three parts:

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Welcoming Happy Hour 
Meet and network with other young Latino leaders over food and drink

7:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Dialogue
A conversation on “Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Latino Priorities” with four leaders

8:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Reception
Continue the conversation with other young leaders over food and drink

Christian Soenen, projects manager of the Initiative, moderated the conversation, and Bishop Evelio Menjivar, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, welcomed those in attendance.


View a list of resources for this gathering.

This Latino Leader Gathering was for young Latino Catholics and others to come together to explore key issues and personal stories involving faith and public life with respected Latino and other leaders. 


Silvia Foster-Frau

Silvia Foster-Frau

Silvia Foster-Frau is a Pulitzer Prize-winning national investigative reporter at the Washington Post who explores how local, state, and federal governments serve the United States’ diversifying population, as well as the effects of America’s changing racial, ethnic, and cultural demographics. She has recently written about the intersection of environmental issues, Latino communities, and health equity.

Elena Gaona

Elena Gaona

Elena Gaona is the Chispa Communications Director for the League of Conservation Voters. Gaona has held communication roles at other nonprofits and government agencies, including Catholic Climate Covenant, UnidosUS, the Center for American Progress, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development.

Mark Hugo Lopez

Mark Hugo Lopez

Mark Hugo Lopez is the director of race and ethnicity research for Pew Research Center. He is an expert on Latino politics and culture, global and domestic immigration, and the U.S. demographic landscape and has written on the intersection of climate change and Latino communities.

Bishop Joseph Tyson

Bishop Joseph Tyson

Bishop Joseph Tyson is the bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. He is the episcopal liaison for Catholic Climate Covenant and is the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee on Pastoral Care for Migrants, Refugees and Travelers.