The Global Catholic Climate Movement, a collaboration of Catholic organizations and leaders from different parts of the world, was launched last 14 January 2015 with a statement presented to Pope Francis during his papal visit to the Philippines. Ecojesuit and Reconciliation with Creation of the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific are part of this growing movement.
In their statement, the movement is calling for prayer and action among the world’s Catholic population, making it the first time that such a global movement of Catholics gathers to work together on climate issues.
Catholic organizations and leaders throughout the world announced their collaboration as a movement working toward a sustainable climate future: the first-of-its-kind international coalition of Catholics from many nations, continents, and walks of life. Its mission echoes the global dimensions of the Catholic Church and a shared sense of responsibility to care for God’s beautiful, life-giving creation.
Inspired by Church teachings and guided by the virtue of prudence, understood by Saint Thomas Aquinas as “right reason applied to action,” the movement accepts the findings of scientific leaders, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to widespread and mostly harmful changes to planetary systems.
According Dr. Pablo Canziani, a climate scientist from Argentina participating in the movement, “Conversations about the climate crisis have historically been more about intellectual arguments than about the profound spiritual and moral implications of our failure to care for God’s creation. The basis of our concerns is scriptural and founded on the tradition of the Church. From Genesis through Revelation, Catholics accept as a revealed truth that creation and its order is a good that we must embrace and steward. This has been echoed and championed by Church leaders for two millennia,” said Dr. Canziani.
Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, who is also a member of the group, explained the statement further by saying: “Enhanced with teachings from Pope Francis and the Bishops of the Philippines, the statement calls for Catholics to promote the teachings of the church, appreciate their moral responsibility to act, and raise awareness about climate change and its impacts, particularly on the poor and future generations. Catholics are encouraged to take part in future actions that seek a strong international climate agreement, and entrust all our efforts to Jesus Christ, who makes all things new.”
From the Philippines, the Ecology Ministry coordinator at the Archdiocese of Manila, Lou Arsenio, adds: “The movement plans to promote networking and sharing of information on climate change among Catholic organizations across national borders, to enhance a greater understanding of Catholic teaching on care of God’s creation, and to respond to Pope Francis’ and other church leaders’ concern about climate change. We invite all Catholic individuals and organizations to join this effort both to raise awareness about this important issue and to act within the public sphere.”
The movement’s launch coincides with the trip of Pope Francis to the Philippines where he will meet survivors of typhoon Haiyan, an extreme weather event considered to be related to climate change. The launch also takes place at a time when the Catholic community is expecting the release of the encyclical on ecology.