November 10, 2009
Independent Catholic News
Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, today launched The Cry of the Earth, a pastoral reflection on climate change from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The launch took place in St Francis of Assisi Primary School in Belmayne, Dublin, beside Father Collins Park, Ireland's first wholly sustainable park.
Launching The Cry of the Earth Archbishop Clifford said: “We are all stewards of God’s creation. As political leaders from around the globe meet in Copenhagen next month for the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change to decide on a new global climate change deal, the Bishops of Ireland wish to raise awareness of our vital responsibility toward sustaining the environment. We need to protect the environment today and on behalf of future generations. Our response needs to be at an individual, community and governmental level.
“The Cry of the Earth, with an accompanying DVD, has been sent to all parishes and is available on: http://www.catholicbishops.ie. It reflects on our Christian responsibility towards the environment and outlines the scientific analysis of climate change, the theological and ethical principles as to why we as Christians have a duty to respond, and practical advice as to how we can act now to sustain the environment.”
Archbishop Clifford continued: “When the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, published his encyclical Caritas in Veritate in July, he reminded us that the ‘environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole … The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere.’”
The Cry of the Earth is a resource for those who care for a better environment. In it parishes are asked to establish groups to discuss various actions, such as:
- conduct an environmental audit of your parish
- increase our use of renewable energy, recycle more, waste less
- raise awareness in the parish of our carbon footprint
- show solidarity by supporting Trócaire’s Climate Change campaign
- enrol in the Eco-Congregation Ireland environmental programme for Churches
- include the theme of care for God’s creation in homilies, prayers of the faithful and examinations of conscience.
Columban missionary priest Father Seán McDonagh, a contributor to The Cry of the Earth, said at the launch: “On 3 November last the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, addressed 200 religious leaders at a Celebration of Faiths and the Environment at Windsor, London. He implored religious leaders to make their voice heard in the run up to the Copenhagen Conference in December. He told them ‘you can inspire, you can provide, you can challenge your political leaders through your wisdom and through your followers.’
“The Cry of the Earth is an attempt by the Irish Bishops to respond to the challenge of climate change by drawing on the wisdom of contemporary science and our faith tradition which is rooted in the Bible and the witness of the Church down through the ages. The Cry of the Earth marries science, good theology, prayer and action. It calls for an ‘ecological conversion’ from everyone, especially in the way we used fossil fuel. This is a timely challenge one month before the Copenhagen Conference.”
Professor John Sweeney, Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, NUI Maynooth, also spoke at the launch and was a contributor to The Cry of the Earth.
Professor Sweeney said: “Belief in global climate change is not a matter of faith. The evidence that the planet is undergoing rapid climate change is factual and beyond scientific dispute. In terms of causation, for almost all the world’s atmospheric scientists, the debate about the human contribution to climate change is now over.
“It is urgent that tackling the greatest challenge facing humanity this century be confronted by all sectors of society. How we do this raises difficult ethical and moral problems, not least in terms of how we assist the most vulnerable peoples and nations, many of whom are victims of our actions. It is here that religious leaders can provide principles to guide decision makers. This document emphasises the need to change our mentality towards the natural world, to respect the integrity of nature and to turn away from excessively consumptive lifestyles.
"These are very basic Christian principles shared with all faiths and call on us to extend a helping hand to our neighbour by recognising there is another way to share the planet. In the lead up to the pivotal Copenhagen conference, where the nations of the world will grapple with the difficulties of reaching a consensus on sharing the burden of greenhouse gas emission reductions, today’s pastoral reflection is a welcome initiative to remind us that scientific and political action should be underpinned by Christian principles.”
Mr Justin Kilcullen, Director of Trócaire, the Bishops’ overseas aid agency, said: “Climate change is not a distant threat. It is a daily reality and the people that are being hit the hardest are the poorest in the world. The Cry of the Earth is especially relevant ahead of the Copenhagen Conference. At this summit world leaders need to agree to take responsibility for the impact of climate change and commit financial support to developing countries to help them cope with its devastating effects.
“The role of the Catholic Church will be critical in the run up to Copenhagen, to remind world leaders of their moral duty to support those whose lives have already been devastated by climate change and commit to the lifestyle changes we all need to take for the common good.”
To coincide with the launch, the full text and summary versions of The Cry of the Earth has been sent to parishes throughout the country. The pastoral reflection is available on www.catholicbishops.ie in English, Irish and Polish, with an accompanying reflection in DVD format and two video interviews:
- Archbishop Clifford discussing the stewardship role of the Church and its people in relation to the environment;
- Professor John Sweeney, Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units at NUI Maynooth, explaining how climate change and global warming have been driven predominantly by human activity and the consequences for people, agriculture and for the economy in this country.
Additional resources on this web feature include suggested reading and information on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of the environment.