Provincial civil servant Derek Chewka described various advocacy strategies to D&P workshop participants.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Provincial civil servant Derek Chewka described various advocacy strategies to D&P workshop participants.

September 28, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Inspired by Pope Francis, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is inviting parishes and individual parishioners to prepare for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December.

D&P is inviting people to engage in a process of education, prayer, reflection and action using Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'.

The invitation is part of Create a Climate of Change, a nation-wide campaign in solidarity with the communities of countries suffering the greatest impact of climate change.

The campaign was launched during D&P's annual Fall Action workshop in Edmonton Sept. 12.

During the workshop, delegates from across the Edmonton Archdiocese learned how to work for climate justice in their communities and parishes and identified the D&P partners affected by climate change.

By reflecting on Catholic social teaching, they recognized the importance of addressing the root causes of climate change.

They then explored options to empower Canadians and partners in their work for justice. This was followed by delegates receiving instruction on how to advocate for the change they want.

Sara Farid, Western regional coordinator of D&P, said Create a Climate of Change was inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical. The papal letter calls for education, prayer, reflection and action to care for our common home.

CHANGE FOR THE PLANET

The movement for climate justice is diverse, strong and global. D&P has joined a three-year campaign on sustainable lifestyles, led by CIDSE, an international alliance of 17 Catholic development organizations from Europe and North America called Change for the Planet: Care for the People.

D&P has also joined the Global Catholic Climate Movement which is urging world leaders to commit to ambitious climate action and resolve this urgent crisis.

Farid said the Create a Climate of Change campaign is looking at the Paris Conference as much as the pope's encyclical does.

"Our fall campaign focuses very specifically on climate change as an important aspect of ecology in our common home and is especially timely," she said. "The pope wrote Laudato Si' looking at the climate change negotiations in Paris in December.

"We are preparing our parishes for reflection and education and action on multiple levels on that subject. We are looking toward that particular event as well and are using the papal document as our guide for reflection."

Laudato Si', Farid said, has been the background and inspiration for the Create a Climate of Change campaign.

"So we are enabling people to also come in tune with the issue, encouraging them to use the pope's message as a way to reflect and to judge what's happening locally and globally and also to direct action on various levels."

Farid said everyone in the world is affected by climate change, but it is the poor who are paying the biggest price.

Her organization recommends multiple actions.

"At the individual level, we are inviting people to have an ecological conversion, think about our place in the world, in God's creation, reconsider some of our practices, assess what might be negative and harmful practices and engage in more positive ones," she said.

MONITOR TIME

Farid suggested people pay attention their ethics of consumption, investment choices and use of time.

Parish communities should even reflect even on things like where they prepare and buy their food for parish events.

"Have a conversation around fair trade, have a conversation around how we get our power sources as parishes and parishioners," recommended Farid.

D&P is asking people to pray and said there will be an ecumenical vigil on ecological justice on Oct. 25.

The organization is also encouraging parishioners to be politically engaged, meet with local politicians, ask what they are doing to combat climate change and suggest specific ecological strategies.

During the federal election, people should attend election debates and ask questions of the candidates.

SIGN PETITION

"Finally, at the international level, we are asking people to sign a petition launched by the Global Catholic Climate Movement and D&P's own petition as well," Farid said.

"I invite everybody to participate in this campaign. It's very important, not just for us, but for future generations," she added.

"What kind of world do we want to leave to our kids? I'm not a mother, but I would need to do anything I can to make sure it's a safe world and a healthy world."