A side event meeting of Catholic organizations active in climate justice work was organized last December 11, 2018 at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland.
The meeting is a space for listening and reporting of the different ecological initiatives and actions of Catholic organizations globally. And also as an opportunity for dialogue with the official Vatican delegation to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COP24 as an Observer Non-Party State. This parallel meeting had been going on since the COP21 in Paris. In the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, both the Vatican and the organizations facilitated conferences for strategic climate actions and formation.
Globally, there are Catholic organizations working and campaigning for climate justice, empowered and inspired by the Laudato Si’ Encyclical of Pope Francis. Among them, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Catholic Climate Covenant, Earthcare Australia, CAFOD, CIDSE and the many JPIC offices of different religious congregations.
The Vatican delegation gave a briefing on their diplomatic negotiations within the COP24 meetings; strongly endorsing the 1.5 degrees Celsius campaign to limit emission, guided by the 2018 IPCC Report. Monsignor Bruno M. Duffé, the Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican and head of the delegation pointed out “the need to address the URGENCY of the climate crisis; to THINK & ACT in Solidarity and with Responsibility together; and to propose DIALOGUE of cultures & religions as actors in solving climate change.”
A representative from REPAM also provided an update of the 2019 Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region with the theme “Amazonia: new paths for the church and for an integral ecology.” The said special synod will focus its lens on the current ecological crisis in the Amazonian region and will impact the many ecologiocal crises around the globe; “they relate to the whole church and the future of the planet” and seek “to serve as a bridge to other similar geographical realities such as, for example, the Congo basin, the biological corridor of Central America, the tropical forests of Asia in the Pacific, the Guarani water system.” This special synod hopes to provide assessment, reflection, guidance and actions; empowering the people of God to work for climate justice and the protection of Mother Earth and the affected communities.
The participants during the meeting were encouraged to embrace the spirit of Talanoa Dialogue in the light of finding solutions to solve the climate crisis: to listen, to foment dialogue; and to seek solutions together. It is the hope of this meeting, that the Church will facilitate a space for ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ in the future conversations on climate issues. It was also suggested, that the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican must provide an exhaustive guidelines for church-people (Bishops, pastors and lay leaders) for integral climate change campaign (call for the end of the use of fossil fuels, anti-coal, climate justice and divestment); providing a pro-active engagement in the Church’s call for caring the people and the planet.
The ‘climate pilgrims’ of The Climate Pilgrimage shared their stories of hope as they journeyed from Rome to Poland; realizing along the way, that the people’s concerns against COAL and the impacts of climate change are much more identical with the stories of struggles felt by the people from the vulnerable islands. The Climate Pilgrimage was able to bring the climate justice campaign in the mainstream media in Poland, considering the country’s many active coal plants and its dependency on fossil fuels; yet the ‘climate pilgrims’ inspiring stories of struggles and sacrifices earned the esteem of the Polish people and the Church. The Climate pilgrims thanked the many catholic organizations for the support and success of the pilgrimage.
This year’s meeting of Catholics at COP24 was participated by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican, Caritas Internationalis, GCCM, The Climate Pilgrimage, CAFOD, ARCORES International (represented by Fray Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR), The Climate Reality Project, REPAM, Pusyon Kinaiyahan, Union of Superiors General, and Franciscans International.