The Role of Believers at Paris Climate Change Summit

The challenge posed by the climate change conference about to begin in Paris could not be more urgent. The decisions by the delegates will directly affect the health of the global environment and its seven billion inhabitants for decades and perhaps centuries. Believers in religious teaching who heed the lessons of science will play a critical role, by showing their solidarity with the poor and their unwavering commitment to protect God’s gift to humanity, the environment.

Pope Francis, in his landmark encyclical letter on the environment published in June titled, Laudato Si’, On Our Common Home, writes:

The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22) (§2). Indeed, our common home is in deep trouble and “beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth (§21).

In all religions the environment — the relationship existing between nature and society — is recognized. This is part of what the pope calls an “integral ecology” that recognizes an interconnectedness between the environment and human beings and is inseparable from the common good. What happens to the environment impacts human beings. When we violate that bond, people are the first victims, and overwhelmingly the poorest of the poor.

When church pastors make judgments about climate change, we are not claiming to have scientific expertise in this area. Our views emanate from an existential, pastoral perspective. In the Philippines, we have been getting typhoons with intensities that we have not seen before. We cannot explain them scientifically, but we live —> Read More