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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Catholics called to 'ecological conversion'
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¬†"You cannot work for Justice and Peace and not be concerned about the environment" according to Columban missionary priest and eco-theologian Sean McDonagh. Speaking at the 27th annual gathering of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales in Derbyshire last weekend, he told 350 participants that "Climate Change is the biggest issue facing agriculture over the next 50 years" and pointed out that ten million people currently need food aid in Southern African because of drought-related crop failure. He pointed out international concerns that melting glaciers on the Himalayas will affect the melt waters of The Ganges, Bramaputra, Mekong and Yangtse rivers and that one third of humanity depend on these rivers for their food production. "Poverty will never be history if climate change is ignored" he said, welcoming the fact that CAFOD, CIIR and Columban Faith and Justice ≠ all members of the Make Poverty History Campaign - are all members of a new Working Group on Climate Change and Development involving the main development and environment agencies in Britain. The Irish priest, who worked in the Philippines for more than 20 years, also urged listeners to join him in lobbying the Vatican not to endorse genetically modified seeds as a solution to world hunger. He reminded conference participants that the late Pope, John Paul ll, called for Catholics to undergo an "ecological conversion" and so promote right relationships in the social and ecological sphere to ensure that all members of the Earth community enjoy the habitat and resources which they need to flourish. The neo-liberal model for economic development came under particular criticism. "Today the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the policeman for the Western capitalist system, are imposing conditions of repayment on the Two Thirds world, through Structural Adjustment Programmes," he said, "which are leading to starvation, illiteracy, political and social breakdown and irreversible destruction to important ecosystems like the rainforests". The role of the Catholic Church in promoting sustainable development and responding to environmental challenges was the focus of the conference 8-10 July organised by the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham and attended by its bishop Malcolm McMahon. Participants also heard CIIR partner Fr Andres Tamayo, a priest and environmentalist from Honduras, urge them not to buy rainforest products in the UK and lobby the UK government to reduce carbon emissions. He has led thousands of people on two weeklong marches to the Honduran capital, drawing national and international attention to the problems caused by unregulated logging. These marches have been supported by Cardinal Oscar Roderiguez of Honduras. Fernando Mudai and JoJi Carino, both from indigenous communities in the Philippines, outlined the negative environmental impacts of large-scale mining in their country. "When the western mining companies came, our water supplies became contaminated with mining waste and our forests, the source of our livelihoods, estroyed" complained Mudai, a Subanon tribal. He was particularly critical that the mineral being mined is gold, a luxury commodity. Mulima Kufekisa Akapelwa, Head of Justice and Peace in Zambia and a CAFOD partner, urged western donors to support Zambia's traditional crops and hold out against the imposition of GM seeds on poor Zambian farmers. "Creating a Climate of Justice", a new campaign video on Climate Change produced by Christian Ecology Link, was launched at the gathering, the first NJPN conference to be devoted to environmental concerns. Edward and Barbara Echlin of Christian Ecology Link suggested many ideas for promoting sustainable lifestyles in the UK, including using the car less and conserving water. The National Justice and Peace Network comprises Justice and Peace representatives from the 22 Catholic dioceses of England and Wales plus mainly Catholic agencies, missionary groups and Bishops' Conference committees involved with issues of Justice and Peace.
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