Churches urged to fight global warming

Christians were urged to support 'Stop Climate Chaos' events in London next Saturday by an eco-theologian, speaking at the annual Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Day on 28 October. Fr Sean McDonagh, an Irish Columban priest who worked in the Philippines for more than 20 years, told more than 150 listeners at St John Vianney Parish, West Green, that global warming is the greatest challenge facing Planet Earth and that Christians must seriously engage with the issue in order to protect life. As keynote speaker, Fr McDonagh presented the scientific facts about global warming and warned that the whole earth community, including animals and plants, face severe disruption as weather extremes of drought and flooding worsen. The first to suffer will be the poorest people in poor countries from the millions of people living in low-lying land in Bangladesh to nomadic people in East Africa coping with more frequent droughts. Ultimately, all human society will suffer and he called for reduced carbon emissions to reduce the worse impacts. Fr McDonagh's next book, due out next month, focuses on the Churches and Climate Change. He urged church leaders to speak out more on the issue and develop a sense of sin in relation to human destruction of the environment, including the atmosphere. Bishop George Stack, auxiliary in Westminster, introduced the day 'The Environment: World Challenges and Local Solutions' by recalling the document, 'The Call of Creation', produced by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in 2001. In it the bishops collectively added their voice to the many calling for urgent action "to protect our earthly home from further destruction". Attending the West Green event were Christians of different denominations, as well as development and environmental organisations including Operation Noah, Progressio, CAFOD, Traidcraft, Christian Aid, and Christian Ecology Link. How to get the parish thinking "green", environmentally friendly buildings, changes to our travelling patterns, were some of the issues covered in workshops. Efforts already being made in schools in Westminster Diocese were described by students from St Ignatius College in Enfield. "We must now take two things forward", said Fr Joe Ryan, Westminster's Coordinator for Justice and Peace and parish priest at West Green. "Parishes should now look at their practice, with an audit, to see how they can reduce their 'ecological footprint' on the environment, and should also sign up to 'Operation Noah', the Churches' campaign on climate change" he said. "We have to meet this challenge together, with other Christians, other faiths" he added, "for we're all on the same planet!" He has accepted an invitation to attend an ecumenical service at Grosvenor Chapel, Central London, on Saturday 4 November which precedes the 'Stop Climate Chaos' rally and is a gathering point for Christian participants. Last week the Holy See stated at the United Nations that an "ecological conversion" is necessary so that sustainable development can take place. The statement was delivered Wednesday afternoon by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, to the General Assembly's committee discussing sustainable development and ecology. "If we wish to make sustainable development a rooted, long-term reality, we must create a truly sustainable economy," said the papal representative. See also: 'Christians to hold day-long rally against climate change' in today's ICN news.

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