Pope Francis rewiews urgent call to COP23 Bonn Climate Conference

Pope Francis has sent a letter to participants in the COP-23 UN Convention on climate change, taking place in Bonn, Germany on 6-17 November. The letter was sent to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of the Fiji Islands, which is officially hosting the event, and was read out to COP-23 participants.

In the letter Pope Francis congratulates the world leaders present at the COP-23 event and invited them “to maintain a high level of cooperation.”

He renews his “urgent call” for renewed dialogue “on how we are building the future of the planet,” saying: “We need an exchange that unites us all,” he said, “because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all.” The Pope warned participants not to fall into “four perverse attitudes” regarding the future of the planet: “denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.”

Finally, Pope Francis sent his well-wishes that the COP-23 would be “inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21” event at which the historic Paris agreement was signed.

The official translation of the Pope’s message follows:

Excellency,

Nearly two years ago, the international community gathered within this UNFCCC forum, with most of its highest government representatives, and after a long and complex debate arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement. It saw the achievement of consensus on the need to launch a shared strategy to counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing: climate change.

The will to follow this consensus was highlighted by the speed with which the Paris Agreement entered into force, less than a year after its adoption.

The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty. This transition is further solicited by the climatic urgency that requires greater commitment from the countries, some of which must endeavour to take a leading role in this transition, bearing in mind the needs of the most vulnerable populations.

These days you are gathered in Bonn to carry out another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it may be truly effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes. In such a path, it is necessary to maintain a high level of cooperation.

From this perspective, I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all. […] Unfortunately, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis are often frustrated for various reasons ranging from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 14).

We should avoid falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research or sincere and productive dialogue on building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.

Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves only to the economic and technological dimension: technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient; it is essential and desirable to carefully consider the ethical and social impacts and impacts of the new paradigm of

development and progress in the short, medium and long term.

From this perspective, it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to education and lifestyles based on an integral ecology, capable of taking on a vision of honest research and open dialogue where the various dimensions of the Paris Agreement are intertwined. It is useful to remember that the Agreement recalls the “grave … ethical and moral responsibility to act without delay, in a manner as free as possible from political and economic pressures, setting aside particular interests and behaviour” (cf. Message to COP-22). This means, in effect, propagating a “responsible awareness” towards our common home (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’, 202; 231) through the contribution of all, in explaining the different forms of action and partnership between the various stakeholders, some of whom do not lack to highlight the ingenuity of the human being in favour of the common good.

While I send my greetings to you, Mr President, and to all the participants in this Conference, I hope that, with your authoritative guidance and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days will be inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21. This will enable an acceleration of awareness-raising and consolidate the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting true human development as a whole. This commitment is supported by the wise providence of God Most High.

This post already appeared on ICN News

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Advent Declaration for Fossil Free Churches

This article first appeared on Independent Catholic News

By: Ellen Teague

Could your church join with other local churches and religious communities across the UK in making a commitment to divest from fossil fuels? In doing so, you can support the campaign for UK Churches to divest at a national level.

If your church has existing fossil fuel investments, this would involve a commitment to divest within five years. Churches without fossil fuel investments (for instance those with just a bank account) can make a divestment commitment by pledging not to invest in fossil fuels in the future.

Operation Noah, an ecumenical Christian organisation responding to the climate crisis, is expecting a joint divestment announcement will be made on the weekend of the First Sunday of Advent (Sunday 3 December). If your church would like to join the announcement, please let Operation Noah know by Thursday 30 November.

For more information or to register your divestment commitment, please email James Buchanan on james.buchanan@operationnoah.org.


The text of the Advent Declaration can be found below:

Advent Declaration for Fossil Free Churches

As we prepare for the coming of Christ into our lives this Christmas, we the undersigned wish for our investments to be a sign of hope, contributing to the flourishing of God’s creation, both now and for generations to come.

We support the campaign for fossil free Churches and, conscious of the impact of climate change on our sisters and brothers around the world – especially those living in poverty, we recognise the urgency of the need to shift from fossil fuels to a brighter, cleaner future.

Our church / religious community, [insert name here], therefore commits to divest any existing fossil fuel investments within the next five years (for churches with existing fossil fuel investments) and pledges not to invest in fossil fuels in the future.

For more information see: http://brightnow.org.uk/

North London parishes mark Creation Day with a picnic and Tug of War

CreationDaySt Mellitus Justice and Peace group organised a splendid picnic in Finsbury Park, north London, to mark the World Day of Prayer for Creation yesterday, Sunday 3 September. The weather was not on their side, but it did not stop all present, including Fr John O Leary, parish priest, from having a great time.

A sprinkling of parishioners from St John Vianney’s West Green and St Thomas More, Manor House Parishes, as well as Catholic Worker members, made it possible to organise two Tug of War teams – St Mellitus versus the Rest of the World.

Alas, St Mellitus proved greatly superior to the latter – a mystery to Fr Joe Ryan, a former Irish champion in this sport! Food to bring and share was abundant so that a pile of respectable leftovers was donated to the nearby Catholic Worker. All appreciated the joys of creation amongst many other picnicking groups. This is St Mellitus’ third Creation picnic. The parish looks forward to many more, with the silly games that are such a fun feature!

Westminster Justice and Peace deeply disappointed by US environment backtracking

The Westminster Justice and Peace Commission is deeply disappointed by the actions of President Trump regarding energy and climate change, which cuts across all the endeavours of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church towards a new way of caring for creation.

On 29 March 2017 Donald Trump signed legislation – an Energy Independence Executive Order – which has undermined all Barack Obama’s policies to combat climate change by reducing emissions from fossil fuels. Central to the changes is a review of Barack Obama’s clean power plan – a pledge to cut US emissions by 26-28% by 2025 – which paved the way for the Paris agreement on tackling climate change involving 195 countries

Through this action, he has swept away green legislation at a stroke of the pen, and has enforced his statement that global warming was a ‘hoax’ invented by the Chinese. Crucially, the Paris accord of 2015 has been seriously undermined on greenhouse emissions and his actions also threaten to derail the worldwide fight against global warming. His plan will therefore make it impossible for the US to meet its Paris obligations.

Yet the US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases – behind China, and most of the world looks to the US for leadership and shared responsibility when it comes to saving our planet for future generations. When leaders of poorer nations see the lack of resolve on the part of the US they are likely to think twice about investing cash into schemes that will not produce immediate results in their political lifetime.

To be committed to climate change means that one has to be there for the long haul and work to pass on a sustainable world to future generations. There is NO ‘quick fix’ which is what many people would like in life. Environmental groups and all who are concerned with the care of our planet need to unite together in a sustained plan of action. We need to proclaim the message of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ letter on ‘the care of our common home’, as never before. We must not be diverted by those who either deny or are indifferent to the task in hand. Now is the hour for renewed efforts.

Fr Joe Ryan (Chair) and Barbara Kentish (Fieldworker)

On behalf of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

For further information contact the Commission on 0208 888 4222

justice@rcdow.org.uk

Caring for the Environment: Justice, Faith and You

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There will be a panel event on interfaith Environmental Concerns at Fyvie Hall, Regent Street Campus on Thursday 23rd March 2017 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. All are welcome.

To register for this event, please see: http://interfaith-and-environment.eventbrite.co.uk

The panel includes the following speakers:

Chair: Roland Dannreuther, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster

Barbara Kentish, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission

Maiya Rahman, Campaigns Coordinator of Islamic Relief UK

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law & Theory at the University of Westminster

Don de Silva, Buddhist environmentalist, journalist, and CEO of Changeways International

Science, Justice, Faith and Care for the Earth – update

We still have tickets left for this event at the Cruciform Building, UCL on 6 February at 7 pm.

The event is free and open to the public, but please r.s.v.p. on Eventbrite.

We’re joining the Newman House University Chaplaincies for an evening panel discussion on the ramifications of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on climate change.

Open discussion and reception will follow.

Speakers will be as follows:

Professor Clare Grey, Cambridge

Materials Chemist, Lithium Air Battery project leader

http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/person/cpg27

Rev. Dr. Martin Poulsom SDB, Heythrop

Creation Theologian

http://www.heythrop.ac.uk/staff/dr-martin-poulsom-sdb

Professor Anne Power, LSE

Climate Change and Social Policy

http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/profile.aspx?KeyValue=anne.power@lse.ac.uk

See also www.twitter.com/LSEhousing

Richard Solly, London Mining Network

Head of an advocacy group for London Miners

See www.twitter.com/LondonMining

Quotes from Laudato Si’ for Homilies or Newsletters – January 2017

Creation quotes for newsletters from the Laudato Si  encyclical of Pope Francis

We suggest that parishes use these quotes  throughout the year.   We will send them in ‘batches’ rather than the whole year all at once, so they don’t get forgotten with the New Year resolution!   (LS  plus number =  the source paragraph of Laudato Si).

For a collection of all the quotes for the liturgical year, please see the Resources Page.

Period 2   Theme: Peace and Justice
(including Peace and Homelessness Sundays, New Year to Ash Wednesday)

Week beginning Sunday 1st January 2017 (perhaps a sentence to remind people, e.g. ‘Pope Francis says:’)

Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. (But) the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. (LS 20, LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 8th January

Very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.(LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 15th January

A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides …) released mainly as a result of human activity… The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system.     (LS 23)

Week beginning Sunday 22nd January

Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. (LS 25)

Week beginning Sunday 29th January

There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.(LS 25)

Week beginning Sunday February 5th

Many professional(s) live far from the poor … This lack of physical contact and encounter, … can lead to a numbing of conscience … Today, however, we have to realize 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)

Week beginning Sunday February 12th

To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. (LS  50)

Week beginning Sunday February 19th

People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more.  A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning.  (LS  55)

Week beginning Sunday February 26th

If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with philosophical thought; this has enabled her to produce various syntheses between faith and reason. The development of the Church’s social teaching represents such a synthesis with regard to social issues; this teaching is called to be enriched by taking up new challenges. (LS 63)

Science, Justice, Faith and Care for the Earth

On 6 February, we’re joining the Newman House University Chaplaincies for an evening panel discussion on the ramifications of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on climate change.

Open discussion and reception will follow.

The event is free and open to the public, but it is essential to r.s.v.p. on Eventbrite.

Speakers will be as follows:

Professor Clare Grey, Cambridge

Materials Chemist, Lithium Air Battery project leader
http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/person/cpg27

Rev. Dr. Martin Poulsom SDB, Heythrop

Creation Theologian
http://www.heythrop.ac.uk/staff/dr-martin-poulsom-sdb

Professor Anne Power, LSE

Climate Change and Social Policy
http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/profile.aspx?KeyValue=anne.power@lse.ac.uk
See also www.twitter.com/LSEhousing

Richard Solly, London Mining Network

Head of an advocacy group for London Miners
See www.twitter.com/LondonMining

Laudato Si’ Toolkit

Following from our Laudato Si’ and Care of Creation – Where Next? workshops, we’ve put together this set of resources for parishes and groups wishing to review some of the content of those workshops, or maybe take things a bit further.

You can download the items individually below, or download the entire pack in an archive.

  • What Do We See? (PowerPoint) (CAFOD Westminster)
    The CAFOD “See” presentation from the workshops.
  • Judge: Climate and Faith (PowerPoint)
    The Westminster Justice and Peace “Judge” presentation from the workshops.
  • Act: How do we Respond? (pdf) (Caritas Westminster)
    The Caritas “Act” presentation from the workshops.
  • Reducing Your Environmental Footprint (pdf) (RCDOW)
    The Diocese of Westminster handbook for reducing parish waste and managing resources.
  • Followup Pointers (Word document) (CAFOD / ColumbansUK)
    If you would like your parish to take action to fight climate change, these eight simple tasks will put you on the right path.
  • The Universe Story – Cosmic Walk (pdf)
    Take a journey through the history of the universe and our planet, accompanied by prayer and contemplation; a fantastic way of promoting climate responsibility through liturgy.