Christian leaders: listen to the cry of the earth

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby signed a joint message urging Christians, as Christians, to pray for world leaders ahead of COP26. For all three, “We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury issued “a joint message for the protection of Creation”. In it, they urge the faithful to pray for world leaders who will meet in Glasgow on 1-12 November for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.

The message, the first signed by the heads of the three Churches, calls on people, whatever their faith of worldview to “listen to the cry of the earth and of the people who are poor” in order to pledge “meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth that God gave us”.

“For more than a year,” reads the joint message, “we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic—all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong.”

“We realised that, in facing this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.”

“These are not new lessons, but we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: ‘Choose life, so that you and your children might live’ (Dt 30:19). We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.”

The Gospel invites “us to adopt a broader outlook and recognise our place in the extended story of humanity. But we have taken the opposite direction. We have maximised our own interest at the expense of future generations.”

“Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us behave in ways which demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet.

“Nature is resilient, yet delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it (Gn 2.15). Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction.”

The message goes on to stress the effects of climate change: fires, cyclones, rising sea levels, phenomena that not only affect underequipped countries, but also those with sophisticated infrastructures that cannot completely prevent destruction.

“Tomorrow could be worse. Today’s children and teenagers will face catastrophic consequences unless we take responsibility now, as ‘fellow workers with God’ (Gn 2.4–7), to sustain our world.”

Thinking about new generations, “we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interest and gains but also of future benefits.”

“This path requires an ever-closer collaboration among all churches in their commitment to care for creation. Together, as communities, churches, cities and nations, we must change route and discover new ways of working together to break down the traditional barriers between peoples, to stop competing for resources and start collaborating.”

Ultimately, “All of us – whoever and wherever we are – can play a part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation.

“Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”