Global Catholic Climate Movement Forms, Anticipating Pope's Formal Letter on Climate

Another group has formed to push the world to address climate change, the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

They will join the thousands of groups advocating for an international climate treaty, and "hope to encourage the conversion of hardened hearts."

"Today, Catholic organizations and leaders throughout the world have announced their collaboration as a movement working toward a sustainable climate future," they say, noting the launch is timed with Pope Francis’ trip to the Philippines, where he is will meet survivors of 2013’s super typhoon Haiyan.

During his trip, Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, will introduce this first worldwide movement among Catholics to Pope Francis. 

Excerpts from the Statement Cardinal Tagle will deliver:

Our collaboration echoes the global dimensions of the Catholic Church and a shared sense of responsibility to care for God’s beautiful, life-giving creation.  We accept the findings of scientific leaders, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to widespread and mostly harmful changes to planetary systems.

In response to what God has given the human race – clean air, life-sustaining water, fruits of the earth’s harvests, and the bounty of the sea – we are called to honor God our Creator for these many blessings. We are obliged to respect these gifts, which are for all people. For this reason climate change is for Catholics a profoundly spiritual, ethical, and moral issue.

Anticipating Pope Francis’ encyclical

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Pope Francis will soon publish a highly anticipated formal letter to bishops, calling for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to address climate change as "essential to the faith."

Expected to be 50-60 pages long, publishing an "encyclical" is a rare, noteworthy event. It will be distributed to the world’s 5000 bishops and 400,000 priests, who will circulate to parishioners.  It will focus on "man’s relationship with nature" and urge all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds.

Popes in the past have called out on this issue, but Pope Francis will make it a central part of his work this year. He will give a speech on climate change to the UN General Assembly in September, and attend – and influence politicians – at the Paris Climate Summit in December.

Last year, the Vatican held a five-day summit, Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility, and this year, it will convene the world’s major religions on taking action on climate change.

Recently, Pope Francis connected the dots between the world’s economic systems, human inequality and devastation of our environment. "An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it. It is no longer man who commands, but money."

Religious groups have long been involved in promoting environmental stewardship, including recent "pray-ins" at the White House. Last year,  University of Dayton – a catholic university – announced it would divest from fossil fuels, as did the World Council of Churches.

Read our article, Fossil Fuel Divestment Sweeps Through Religious Community.

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