Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 11, 2006
Australian churches rally against global warming
They urge gov't to ratify Kyoto Accord
The right to a safe ecological environment is a universal right and Catholics are called to respond with resolute action to the reality of global warming, said the Catholic bishops of Australia.
The Catholic bishops joined with religious leaders from 15 other Australian faith communities to demand stronger individual, governmental and private sector efforts to slow global climate change.
In what is seen as an unprecedented show of support for environmental protection, the faith communities - including Christian churches, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, Bahais, Hindus and Aboriginal Australians - issued statements that were compiled by the not-for-profit Climate Institute and released Dec. 5 as Common Belief: Australia's Faith Communities on Climate Change.
Together, the religious groups represent more than 12.5 million or more than 70 per cent of all Australians, meaning the strongly worded statements may impact politicians from all parties. Catholicism is Australia's largest religion, representing almost 28 per cent of the nation's population.
"The Earth is our common home," the Catholic bishops said. "Religion knows the natural world has value in itself. It belongs to God and is only on loan to human, who are called to care for it."
Noting that the international scientific community now recognizes rapid climate change as a reality due to human activity, the bishops called Catholics, "as an essential part of their faith commitment, to respond to the reality of climate change - with sound judgment and resolute action."
Renew the harmony
"Our clear call as human beings is to renew the harmony between ourselves, our Creator and our world," the bishops said. "We call on Catholics to lead by example."
"Care for the Earth must become our purpose, and vocation," they said.
The global community "must be freed from what can be termed 'a state of suffering,'" they said.
Australians have a "particular duty" to recognize the global warming crisis as they are the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters per capita, the bishops noted.
Atmospheric pollution "is harming the many innocent peoples of the Pacific region, whose ecological footprint is radically lighter than our own."
They said not to use "the lack of full scientific certainty" about global warming as a reason to postpone corrective action.
"Future generations should not be robbed or left with extra burdens," the bishops said. "Those who are to come have a claim to a just administration of the world's resources by this generation."
The Catholic leaders said that all sectors of society have roles "in imagining and building a future Australia with reduced greenhouse gas emissions."
Consumers need to make "greenhouse-friendly" purchasing choices, while government must work to support international structures working to reduce global warming, strengthen biodiversity efforts and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the bishops urged.
Business interests, they stressed, must "integrate environmental factors" to establish "authentic development."
"Profit is a limited goal and needs to be linked to socially and environmentally responsible ethical investment," the Catholic bishops said.
"Promoters of unsustainable lifestyles harm the environment now and will ultimately make Australia weaker."
The Catholic statement notes the devastating effects of war on the environment, including the consumption of "much of the world's financial resources" to feed conflict.
"Catholics wish to participate in a future where all sectors of the community go beyond sectarian interests, secular and religious differences," it said.
A moral issue
While climate change is usually seen in terms of science or economics, Corin Millais, chief executive officer of the Climate Institute, said, "the fate of the planet as a result of global warming is really a moral issue."
"Climate change is ultimately about what it means for people - especially children - and the whole creation," Millais said.
"Uneasily, we recognize that it is getting hotter. The drought does not break. The summer gets longer. Bushfires occur with worrying frequency.
"We are told it is all the fault of the 'big polluters', even poor countries like China and India. Yet we also know Australians are the worst greenhouse polluters per capita in the world. We wonder how it all got this far. We wonder what to do."
(© Catholic Online 2006, www.catholic.org)