Today, the Presidents of all the Continental Associations of Bishops’ Conferences issued a compelling appeal to the negotiating parties and heads of state working towards a new international climate agreement to be agreed this December at COP 21 in Paris. The appeal underpins the importance of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis. The signatories “join the Holy Father in pleading for a major break-through in Paris, for a comprehensive and transformational agreement supported by all.”
The appeal is a powerful call to work towards the approval of a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement that must put the common good ahead of national interests and should protect our common home and all its inhabitants. The agreement, according to the signatories, should limit global temperature increases to avoid catastrophic climatic impacts, especially on the most vulnerable communities. Based on scientific evidence, faith leaders recognize that excessive reliance on fossil fuel is primarily responsible for accelerated climate change, and they call not only for “drastic reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and other toxic gasses”, but also for ending the fossil fuel era.
Putting forward a ten-point proposal (see the 10 points in the notes to the editors), the appeal draws on the concrete experience of people across continents, and links climate change to social injustice and the social exclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens. As Pope Francis states in Laudato Si’, the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all, and its degradation challenges us to re-define our notions of growth and progress, rethinking our lifestyles. The Church is also witness to how climate change is affecting vulnerable communities and people, and signatories therefore “call for social justice to be placed centre stage”.
The appeal was presented on 26 October during a press conference at the Holy See. Signatories of the call are H.E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias – President of FABC (Asia), H. E. Peter Cardinal Erdo – President of CCEE (Europe), H.E. Cardinal Reinhard Marx – President of COMECE (Europe), H. E. Ruben Cardinal Salazar Gomez – President of CELAM (Latin America), His Beatitude / Eminence Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai – President of CCPO (Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Orient), His Grace Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi – President of SECAM (Africa), His Grace Archbishop John Ribat – President of FCBCO (Oceania), His Grace Archbishop Joseph Kurtz – President of USCCB (USA) and His Excellency Bishop David Douglas Crosby, OMI – President of CCCB-CECC (Canada).
The appeal was written in collaboration with our Catholic networks CIDSE (international alliance of Catholic development agencies) and Caritas Internationalis and with the sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Cardinal Gracias, President of FABC, who presided at the press conference said: “We the Presidents of the Continental Associations of Episcopal Conferences call on the COP21 negotiators in Paris, in December, to come to a binding agreement in order to avert the dangers of climate change. It is our responsibility to convey, with a clear and confident voice, the message of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ of caring for the earth and caring for the poor.”
The Church leaders at the press conference highlighted that climate change is already a reality in all regions and that climate impacts and risks are particularly high for Small Island States, coastal regions, and those working in agriculture, with tragic consequences for poor communities. The Bishops emphasised that the rich countries, producing and consuming the largest proportion of carbon-based energy, have real responsibilities towards poorer countries.
SECAM warmly welcomes the declaration, which reaffirms the Church’s engagement for a fair and transformational climate agreement. “We feel that this document, as well as the Encyclical Laudato Si’, underpin the work many Catholic groups worldwide are doing for climate justice. “Climate change is clearly not only an environmental problem but the result of a failing model of consumerism, fossil fuel exploitation and injustice. A transition towards well-being for all, recognizing nature and the atmosphere as common goods, is required,” said CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles.
Notes to the editors:
CIDSE Media & Communication Officer
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-The full statement can be read here as of Monday 26 October 13:00h: http://www.cidse.org/newsroom/press-release-catholic-church-worldwide-calls-for-urgent-climate-action-and-for-a-major-break-through-at-the-cop-21-paris-conference.html
-Pictures from the press conference, including the signature of the statement, are available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cidse/albums/72157657518271633
The Press Conference may be followed via live audio-video streaming on the site: http://player.rv.va/ (Vatican Player of the Vatican Radio), where it will subsequently remain available on demand, or on the CTV YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/vatican which offers only direct streaming during the event.
The 10 points: