Archbishop Patrick Kelly convened a meeting on environmental justice yesterday, to discuss with an invited group of scientists, theologians and other concerned people how the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales can build upon the work that it has already done in this area. The meeting, at the St Vincent de Paul Centre in Westminster, began with presentations by the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool Bishop James Jones, Archbishop Kelly, Sir John Houghton and Fr Sean McDonagh of the Columban Missionaries. The discussions particularly focused on how to respond to the problems of global warming and climate change and the wider question of sustainable development. The meeting identified a number of practical ways to promote greater awareness within the Church about environmental justice issues and how to promote good practice. Archbishop Kelly, who will now consider the way forward in consultation with the Bishops' Conference, said: "Christians have an obligation to care, not just for other human beings, but for the earth itself. Their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith. It is a sad fact but, as the Holy Father has said, Man is no longer the Creator's steward, but has turned into an autonomous despot who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss. "The meeting today has provided many useful and practical ideas about how the Catholic Church, in association with the other churches and faiths, can fulfil its obligations towards the environment. "I am most grateful to everyone who has contributed to this consultation. I will now reflect upon all the suggestions that have been made and then as a matter of urgency I will consult my fellow bishops as to how we should proceed." The Bishops' Conference current concern with environmental justice stems from the second European Ecumenical Assembly held in Graz, Austria, in 1997 where churches committed themselves to work together to develop sound environmental policies. In 1996, in its publication The Common Good and the Catholic Church's Social Teaching, the Bishops of England and Wales had already emphasised the duties of care for the environment. In 2002, shortly before the start of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development, the Bishops' Conference developed this statement in a booklet The Call of Creation. Earlier this year the Bishops' Conference sponsored a conference organised by the Newman Association and the Christian Ecology Link as a response to The Call of Creation. The Bishops' Conference is associated with many ecumenical environmental groups, such as the Environmental Issues Network, and Archbishop Kelly has played a leading role in international meetings organised by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Source: CCS
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