Canada, with its enormous share of global mining, needs to ensure its companies overseas adhere to decisions taken for global climate action. CNS photo/Janine Costa, Reuters

‘Faith is not neutral’ in caring for creation

  • October 14, 2021

Pope Francis isn’t going to let the next global summit on climate change slip by on the same old excuses and empty promises — and Development and Peace - Caritas Canada aims to see Canadian Catholics play their part.

COP26 “represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations,” Pope Francis told a global audience as he launched an appeal from world faith leaders at the Vatican Oct. 4.

The multifaith appeal that encompasses Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other spiritualities follows hard on a Sept. 1 ecumenical teaching document jointly issued by Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Add to this the Vatican’s presence at the conference — Cardinal Pietro Parolin  will represent the Holy See and deliver a message from Pope Francis — and it adds up to a full court press by the Catholic Church on global warming.

Development and Peace wants to see Canadian Catholics back the Pope’s play in Glasgow. The Catholic social justice organization is providing opportunities for individuals and parishes to pressure Canadian politicians to make bold commitments in Glasgow, as well as opportunities to learn more about the threat to the planet.

“Catholics often shy away from political mobilization in our churches,” said Development and Peace campaign officer Kathleen Cross.

“But our faith is not neutral when it comes to the dignity of all persons, to care for creation and to the political and economic structures that affect people and the planet.”

Development and Peace - Caritas Canada has dedicated this year to a campaign headlined “People and Planet First.” The campaign asks Catholics for more than just money.

“We are called to live our love for people and planet openly,” Cross said.

One initiative has been an Oct. 16 online event to learn about how Indigenous and environmental activists face threats on their lives for defending their ancestral lands and important ecosystems.

On the eve of the Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 global summit in Glasgow, Development and Peace is encouraging parishes and individuals to take part in an Oct. 30 ecumenical symposium titled “For the Love of Creation.” It will be a chance to learn more about Canada’s climate plan and ways to make it better. Sr. Eva Solomon of the Congregation of St. Joseph and others will present the Letter of the Faithful written to the leaders gathered in Glasgow.

Getting people involved, not just passively reading about the climate crisis, “is a big part of building the new economy that faith leaders spoke about in their Oct. 4 message,” Cross said.

Canada’s enormous share of the global mining industry puts extra responsibility on Canadians, she said.

“We as a Catholic community also need to ensure that whatever decisions are taken for global climate action, that Canada puts laws in place that protect people and the planet when Canadian companies operate overseas,” said Cross.

Due diligence legislation that would require Canadian companies to report on the risks to human rights and the environment for their investments overseas would be a good start, she said.

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