03/30/2021, 15.29
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Pope: 'See’ the millions suffering from the climate crisis

The book “Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People” presented in the Vatican. In the first half of 2020, 14.6 million people were displaced: 9.8 million due to natural disasters and 4.8 million due to conflict and violence. The result of the experiences in the field of Catholic structures and organizations and approved by the Pope, the document is developed in ten points.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "To see or not to see, this is the problem". Paraphrasing Hamlet, Pope Francis writes about the climate crisis in the preface to the latest document published by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for Integral Human Development entitled "Pastoral Guidelines on Climate Displaced People", presented today in the Vatican.

"The verb 'to see' - underlined Father Fabio Baggio, CS, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section - is the first step in a process of awareness, which aims to act on the causes of the climate crisis and on the its consequences in the migratory field. The climate crisis has a 'human face'. It is already a reality for millions of people throughout the world, in particular for the inhabitants of the existential peripheries”.

“The Magisterium of the Catholic Church - he added - has already previously taken into consideration the drama of internally displaced persons and has developed reflections and suggestions regarding their pastoral care. These new guidelines focus exclusively on climate displaced people - i.e. those people or groups of people who have been forced to leave their usual place of residence due to an acute climate crisis, highlighting new challenges that the current global scenario poses and suggesting adequate pastoral responses ".

The result of the experiences in the field of Catholic structures and organizations and approved by the Pope, the document is developed in ten points. The first, explained Father Baggio, is dedicated to a general survey on the subject, in order to clarify the state of the art regarding the link between the climate crisis and displacement. The next nine points focus on particular aspects of the phenomenon, according to a dynamic of challenges and responses. Therefore, we start from the need to promote awareness on the issue, to allow everyone to 'open their eyes to the reality of the impact that the climate crisis has on human existence'. Sometimes hasty departures can be avoided by finding alternatives to climate displacement: the third point is dedicated to this. If departure is inevitable, then it is necessary to prepare people for displacement (fourth point), promote their inclusion and integration with the communities that receive them (fifth point), exert a positive influence on the decision-making processes that affect them (sixth point) and ensure pastoral care (seventh point). The eighth point is dedicated to cooperation between all actors in planning and strategic action in favour of climate displaced people. The ninth focuses on the promotion of vocational training in integral ecology of pastoral agents. The last point underlines the need to increase academic research on the climate crisis and related displacement.

The Guidelines close with a small chapter dedicated to some practical indications on how to use the document, intended mainly for the local Churches and other Catholic actors.

The phenomenon, Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, S.D.B., official of the Dicastery, is growing. “The climate crisis is becoming one of the primary triggers of displacement in recent years. Numbers speak for themselves. Of the more than 33 million newly displaced people in 2019, 8.5 million were displaced as a result of conflict and violence while 24.9 million due to natural disasters. In the first half of 2020, 14.6 million people were displaced: 9.8 million as a result of natural disasters and 4.8 associated with conflict and violence. While about 10.3 million people were displaced by climate change-induced events such as flooding and droughts in the last six months, about 2.3 million others were displaced by conflict in the same period, indicating the vast majority of internal displacements are now triggered by the climate crisis. It is estimated that over 253.7 million people were displaced by natural disasters from 2008 to 2018, with such disasters displacing three to 10 times more people than armed conflict worldwide, depending on the region in question."

"With these pastoral guidelines on climate displaced people - observed Cecilia Dall'Oglio, on behalf of the World Catholic Climate Movement - Pope Francis invites us to 'see', and it is necessary, aware of the urgency to change course towards an ecology integral, alongside formal training to offer educational proposals of strong significance with the methodology of learning by doing ".

The examples offered include the campaign for the divestment from fossil fuels https://catholicclimatemovement.global/divest-and[1]reinvest/.  "Even the attention that the Guidelines ask for 'Developing a broader and more coherent communication strategy' is well represented by the choice that the announcement - by Catholic organizations that decide to divest and take their money where theirs are too values - in order to be more effective, it should be carried out in a coordinated way, in particularly significant moments and in collaboration with the wider civil society movement. Divestment - she underlined - is the rudder stroke to reverse the course of this extractive economic development model that we, from our democratic countries, have to fight for, assuming our responsibilities and doing our part for climate justice, for our brothers and sisters who have nothing left ”.

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