CNS photo/Chaz Muth

Ecology comes first, ‘no ifs, ands or buts’

  • December 3, 2022

Twenty religious congregations have joined together to lobby Ottawa politicians on climate change and social justice. 

Since September, the Office of Religious Congregations for Integral Ecology has been quietly meeting with MPs and Senators of all parties, making the case for thoughtful, planned changes to the structure of Canada’s economy.

“We need it because the Catholic voice is missing on the Hill these days,” said ORCIE’s chief lobbyist Genevieve Gallant. “There’s no other group that has the mandate to do advocacy, or the capacity to do advocacy, on the Hill.”

On behalf of sisters, priests and brothers that live under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Gallant is pushing an ecology-first agenda for all parties.

“It’s about what we’re advocating for — with Laudato Si’ and Pope Francis, the urgent need to get action on climate change,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if the Conservative policy is going to look similar to the Liberal policy, because we need action on that file — no ifs, ands or buts.”

It’s natural that the job should fall to the religious congregations, who have often played a prophetic role in the Church and society, Gallant said.

“We know the Catholic bishops have had a lot going on with reconciliation. We know that Development and Peace has a lot going on with emergencies from Pakistan to Ukraine,” she said.

Gallant has been in the advocacy business for 25 years with Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, Citizens for Public Justice, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle and Kairos, the Canadian ecumenical social justice collaboration. The idea for ORCIE came together in June 2021 and Gallant began active lobbying in September, participating in the Climate Action Network’s annual Days on the Hill meetings.

The Synod on Synodality and the Vatican’s accession to the Paris Climate Accords have made the case for practical Catholic political activism more than clear, according to Gallant.

“The urgency now is that we had 623 oil executives, lobbyists, as part of (official) delegations at COP27. We’ve got to up our game.” 

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