Catholic groups rally against climate change amid intense religious debate


Shards of blue iceberg are melting in front of the Gray Glacier in Patagonia, Chile.

(RNS) Catholic environmental groups around the world announced a new global network to fight climate change on Wednesday, January 14, just as many Catholic conservatives strongly criticize Pope Francis’ campaign to put environmental protection first of the church agenda.

“We are certain that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change endangers the creation of God and all of us, especially the poor, whose voices have already spoken of the impacts of a changed climate,” the new said. Global Catholic Climate Movement. in his mission statement.

“Climate change is about our responsibility as children of God and people of faith to care for human life, especially future generations, taking care of all of God’s wonderful creation,” the statement continued.

The GCCM has said it intends to push for international treaties to address global warming, but said it is approaching the issue from a moral and biblical perspective and hopes to “encourage the conversion of hard hearts “.

This could be a tall order in light of the current arguments about climate change in American politics and in the American church.

A family stands in front of their home battered by Typhoon Haiyan.  Photo by Pio Arce, courtesy of World Vision.

A family stands in front of their home devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Pio Arce, courtesy of World Vision

The GCCM is the first alliance of its kind and it was unveiled this week to coincide with Francis’ trip to the Philippines, where he is planned to visit the area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The deadly storm was seen as evidence of the effects of climate change, a topic the Pope has raised frequently and should be addressed during his visit. He is also expected to address the issue in a major environmental encyclical to be released by the Vatican in the coming months.

But the prospect has worried and angered many church conservatives, who see Francis’ ecological push as further evidence of his papacy’s liberal tilt.

Conservative Catholic commentators have tried to minimize the authority of any papal statement on the environment – they argue that such statements are based on flawed science, not sound doctrine – while others have simply rejected them.

The pullback reached a crescendo last week when columnist Maureen Mullarkey wrote an article in the conservative First Things newspaper that tore Francis apart as “an ideologue and an indiscreet egotist” who suffers from “megalomania” and “defiles his office by using demagogic formulations to intimidate the population into reflexive guideless climate action more substantial than theologized propaganda.”

Many have said Mullarkey went too far, while others applauded her. But it seems clear that the issue, and the debates, will continue.

In a State of the World address on Monday shortly before leaving for his trip to Asia, Francis referred to plans for a global environmental agreement in 2015. He looked up from his prepared text and told the audience of diplomats: “Urgent, this! “

Among the founding members of the new GCCM are the Washington-based Franciscan Action Network, the Catholic Climate Covenant, Accion Catolica Argentina, Catholic Earthcare Australia, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa and the Archdiocese’s Ministry of Ecology. from Manila.



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