Urgent demand for environmental sustainability

The environmental crisis facing the universe and the proximity of the summit on the subject to be held in Glasgow next November brought together the highest authorities of the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, Pope Francis, the Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in a joint document in favor of the “protection of creation”. In their statement, religious leaders say that “this is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty and the importance of global cooperation.” The highest authorities of these Christian churches maintain that “we have realized that, Faced with this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really affect others, and that what we do today affects what will happen tomorrow ”.

Ecumenical statement

The document barely two pages long, which bears the signature of the three religious leaders on the foot, has a dramatic tone when making the diagnosis of the environmental situation of humanity, maintains that “today we are paying the price” for the deterioration of nature, emphasizes that if the attitude does not change “tomorrow could be worse” and warns that “Climate change is not just a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent question of survival.”

Pope Francis is the highest authority in the Catholic Church, which has approximately 1,300 million faithful. The Orthodox Christians who recognize Bartholomew I as their spiritual leader are estimated at 220 million worldwide and the Christians who make up the worldwide Anglican Communion led by Archbishop Welby are 85 million.

The joint statement begins by recalling the health crisis the world is going through. “For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic: all of us, rich or poor, weak or strong. Some were more protected or more vulnerable than others, but the rapid spread of the infection has made us depend on each other in our efforts to keep ourselves safe ”, point out Christian religious leaders and warn that in the face of these circumstances “We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations”, that is to say “we must choose to live in another way; we must choose life ”.

And addressing directly those who will participate in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow “as leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or vision of the world, to that they strive to hear the cry of the earth and the people who are poor, examining their behavior and committing to make significant sacrifices for the good of the land that God has given us.

Reflecting on the importance of sustainability, the signatories of the ecumenical document denounce that “we have maximized our own interest at the expense of future generations.” Because, they say, “by concentrating on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including nature’s wealth, are depleted for short-term benefits.”

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The analysis then advances on the impact that this reality causes on people living in poverty, pointing out that there is a “profound injustice” given that the people who bear the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses (against nature and the environment) are the poorest on the planet and those who have had the least responsibility in causing them ”.

Extreme weather and catastrophes

According to Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Welby “we are paying the price” as humanity and “the extreme weather and natural catastrophes of recent months reveal to us once again with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not just a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent question of survival”.

The text includes a stark description of the natural disasters facing the universe today. “Floods, fires and widespread droughts threaten entire continents. Sea level rises, forcing many communities to relocate; cyclones devastate entire regions, ruining lives and livelihoods. Water has become scarce and the food supply insecure, causing conflict and displacement for millions of people. We have already seen it in places where people depend on small-scale farms. Today we see it in the most industrialized countries, where not even sophisticated infrastructures can completely prevent extraordinary destruction, ”the document says.

Senior Christian leaders emphasize that as a society “we must recognize that the way we use money and organize our societies has not benefited everyone” and assume that “we discover ourselves weak and anxious, immersed in a series of crises: health, environmental, food, economic and social, all of them deeply interconnected ”.

The diagnosis is followed by a request to act jointly in the certainty that “Together we can walk towards a more just and fuller society with the most vulnerable at the center” but this implies making changes and that “each of us, individually, must take responsibility for the way we use our resources” affirming that “together, as communities, churches, cities and nations, we must change course and discover new ways of working together to break down barriers traditional among peoples, to stop competing for resources and start collaborating ”.

And those with responsibilities for governance, running businesses, employing people, and investing funds are being asked to choose “people-centered benefits” and become “In leaders of the transition towards just and sustainable economies”.

The document of the high Christian religious leaders ends by noting that “the care of God’s creation is a spiritual mandate that requires a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. The future of our children and that of our common home depend on it ”.

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