Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the care of creation, “Laudato Si” (Praise Be to You), has continued to spark discussion and hopefully some reflection. You can read a copy of the letter at bit.ly/1Gi1BTu.

The chair of the Iowa Catholic Conference board, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, held a news conference on July 2 with Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport. The bishops encouraged Iowans to raise environmental issues and the care of creation with candidates for office.

Other speakers at the news conference included Rev. Susan Guy, a Disciples of Christ minister and director of the clean-energy advocacy organization Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, and Father Bud Grant, professor of theology, specializing in Environmental Theology and Historical Theology, at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

Later this month, Loras College in Dubuque will host an educational event on the encyclical. It will take place at the Campus Center on Thursday, July 23 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Speakers will include Father Grant, who will summarize the Pope’s message and its historical background, and Dr. David Cochran, Professor of Politics and Director of the Archbishop Kucera Center at Loras, who will discuss how people of faith and others can work together in their circles of influence and in the public square to address the challenges the pope has identified. Discussion and planning for future action will follow.

The event is sponsored by Green Dubuque, Church of the Resurrection and State Rep. Chuck Isenhart, with support from the Father Ray Herman Peace and Justice Center at Loras College.

Meanwhile at the national level, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has urged Congress to answer Pope Francis’ call to protect creation and oppose legislation and appropriation riders that would reverse efforts to develop a national standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.

“The U.S. bishops stand united with the Holy Father in his call to protect creation,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, in letters to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, June 24.

Archbishop Wenski emphasized the importance of Laudato Si, where Pope Francis “called on all people to care for God’s creation and our common home for the well-being of current and future generations.”

“Our Conference has long spoken out on the importance of prudent action to address the growing impact of global climate change,” wrote Archbishop Wenski. “As government leaders, we ask you to resist any effort to impair the development of a national carbon standard and instead to support our nation’s ability to address this urgent global challenge confronting the human family.”

His letter to Congress is available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/letter-to-congress-on-carbon-standards-2015-06-24.cfm.