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Catholics Mobilize Around Climate Change Action


Editor's Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Global Warming is Real

From the top-down and bottom-up, the world’s Roman Catholics are mobilizing. They hope to inspire world leaders to take stronger actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change and at the same time tackle the 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 to the benefits natural ecosystems afford humanity. They also speak to what are considered basic universal human rights, say the leaders in a growing Catholics-for-climate change action movement.

Pope Francis is leading the charge. Having chastised business leaders and politicians of 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. The document will clarify and better define the Catholic Church’s official stance on the issue. (A copy of the encyclical leaked this week. Check out TriplePundit's coverage here.)

Fighting climate change, social and environmental injustice

In a February speech made in Ireland, 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 encyclical on climate change.

"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 speculated earlier this year.

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) explained 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.”


Building on a climate fast

In March, GCCM members also took part in a “Lenten Fast for Climate Justice” that proved “greatly successful.” Thousands of people across 56 countries participated in the fast, which was organized by the interfaith Fast For The Climate initiative and the Green Anglicans Carbon Fast along with GCCM. Spanning about six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert.

GCCM seeks 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 degrees Celsius, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts,” the petition stated.

Image credit: Flickr/© European Union 2014 - European Parliament

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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