From the top-down and bottom-up, the world’s Roman Catholics are mobilizing in an attempt to get world leaders to take stronger actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change and at the same time tackle thorny and persistent issues of social and environmental justice.
All these issues are interrelated, and Roman Catholic values, beliefs and teachings are rife with direct and indirect references and allusions to the basic, fundamental value and benefits natural ecosystems and wild places afford humanity, as well as what are considered basic universal human rights, according to leaders in a growing Catholics-for-climate change action movement.
Pope Francis is leading the charge. Having chastised business leaders and politicians of even the world’s capitalist democracies regarding excessive greed and corruption, world leaders are looking forward with a bit of trepidation, as well as anticipation, as the Pope readies a papal encyclical on climate change that will clarify and better define the Catholic Church’s official stance on the issue.
Fighting climate change, social and environmental justice
In a speech made in Ireland early last month, Cardinal Peter Turkson said Pope Francis “isn’t making a political call to arms or an attempt at ‘greening the church,” by issuing the encyclical on climate change. Rather, he “is emphasizing Roman Catholic social teaching that links protecting life with fighting global inequality and preserving the environment.”
The head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Turkson helped write a first draft of the Pope’s upcoming encyclical on climate change, which he is expected to present publicly this June or July.
Furthermore, in his upcoming encyclical on climate change Pope Francis, while acknowledging “disagreement over the causes of global warming,” will emphasize that ‘what is not contested is that our planet is getting warmer’ and Christians have a duty rooted in ‘ancient biblical teaching,'” AP’s Rachel Zoll recently reported.
Roman Catholics are rallying around the Pope’s call on world leaders to address climate change and the wide-ranging issues revolving around basic concepts of social and environmental justice.
On March 26, a group of nearly 100 Catholic organizations working to address climate change launched “a unique petition campaign to provide an easy way for Catholics to act and voice their concerns ahead of the United Nations COP21 climate summit at Paris in December.”
The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) explains that with the climate change petition campaign, the organization hopes “to raise a strong Catholic voice demanding world leaders to commit to ambitious climate action, signing a meaningful treaty in Paris to tackle the climate crisis.”
In launching the campaign, GCCM highlighted the work Catholic organizations around the world are engaged in to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution and “level the playing field” for people and communities that find themselves increasingly marginalized and unable to influence the course of government policy-and economic decision-making.
Building on a climate fast
GCCM members, meanwhile, are in the midst of a “Lenten Fast for Climate Justice” that has proven “greatly successful.” Thousands of people across 56 countries are participating in the fast, which is organized by the interfaith Fast For The Climate initiative and the Green Anglicans Carbon Fast along with GCCM. Spanning about six wees leading up to Easter Sunday, Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert.
GCCM hopes to build on the momentum by mobilizing Catholics worldwide to petition world leaders to take stronger, more decisive action on climate change and social and environmental justice. Supporting and informing the initiative, GCCM highlights how core Catholic values and teachings support and inform its own efforts and those of Catholics around the world to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people. Impelled by our Catholic faith, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts,” the petition states.