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Bishops representing every continent sign appeal for climate change action

2015-10-26

Bishops representing every continent signed a historic appeal at the Vatican, urging concrete action at an upcoming climate change conference.


CARD. OSWALD GRACIAS
President, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences
"We ask for a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement to be signed at COP 21. It should make a difference.”

One of the main reasons Pope Francis chose this year to publish his ecology encyclical "Laudato Si” is because he wanted it to influence the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, also known as COP 21.

But he also wants the Church at all levels to take action. That's what prompted the bishops' appeal, which is made up of "ten calls” for the conference.

CARD. RUBEN SALAZAR GOMEZ
President, Latin American Episcopal Conference
"We cannot expect that they are the only ones who decide the future of humanity. It is a responsibility for all of us to already be working in a clear and assiduous way to avoid climate change and the permanent assaults that are destroying the environment, which is a common good.”

While climate change is a global issue, some countries have more at stake in the immediate future.

The representative from Oceania said rising sea levels are already creating major problems for his region. And the Church has begun working on a local level to help.

MSGR. JOHN RIBAT
President, Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania
"We have issued the pastoral letters. At the same time, we have made awareness. Caritas is going out to all the communities, making awareness in all the islands of Oceania. Just last month, the Caritas of Oceania met to look into what we can do.”

Given how difficult it was to get agreements before, some observers do not expect much to come from the Paris conference. But one scientist who has worked with the UN said that appeals like this can help the process.


PROF. JEAN-PASCAL VAN YPERSELE
Université catholique de Louvain
"It's probably quite important, because when the Pope speaks, he's listened to. When bishops from all continents like today speak together, after having prepared a carefully drafted statement, I think it might have some influence.” 

The conference will begin November 30th and conclude December 11th. The professor said that he's "optimistic” they'll get some agreement because "the problem is much better understood” than it was just a few years ago.


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