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El Yunque National Forest is seen in this 2012 file photo. This year's Earth Day, April 22, marks the 50th anniversary of the observance. CNS photo/Octavio Duran

Faith organizations join forces for Earth’s sake

  • May 1, 2020

OTTAWA -- A coalition of Catholic and other faith-based organizations and social justice groups are joining forces in a new initiative to unify the voices demanding action to address climate change.

The campaign, called “For the Love of Creation,” launched April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It sets out several ways they hope to harness the “long history of work in ecological conservation, environmental activism and advocacy for climate justice.”

“We come together as people of faith in the hopes of making a meaningful contribution in the next decade towards a sustainable future for all life on the planet,” said an April 22 statement announcing the initiative supported by 20 organizations.

A spokesperson for Development and Peace, the international development organization of Canada’s Catholic bishops, said the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we are interconnected around the world and that solidarity in the fight against the pandemic can be a template to address issues such as climate change.

“All of us have an opportunity to come together for a just economy, for economic integrity, for ecological integrity, for the right relations with Indigenous people,” said Genevieve Gallant, the director of public engagement for Development and Peace. “We want to do better. As people of faith, we want there to be a just and sustainable future for everyone on the planet.”

“For the Love of Creation” focuses on three themes: a theological exploration of God and creation; increasing public dialogue and building a consensus for action; and engaging in political advocacy, which includes urging government to “meet and ultimately exceed” Canada’s climate-change commitments and incorporating Indigenous knowledge in climate solutions.

The way governments in Canada have co-ordinated efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 is an example of what can be done if governments work together, said Karri Munn-Venn, senior policy analyst for the Ottawa-based Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

“We have seen what our governments can do if there is political will to act quickly,” she said, adding that the next decade is “crucial” if society hopes to significantly address climate change.

While Munn-Venn acknowledges “our plans on the ground have shifted with churches closed right now,” she said she has “been encouraged that a lot of people have reached out and want to get involved.”

Organizations that joined the initiative are committed to working together for at least 18 months.

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