“To know Creation is to know the Creator.” –St. Columban
For more than 30 years, Columban missionaries have been at the forefront of protecting the environment from destructive practices and addressing the urgency of climate change. Our mission experience of living with the natural world and with communities that have been marginalized and exploited impels us to seek ways to restore right relationships with all of Creation.
We advocate for bold action to address Climate Change.
In particular, human-induced climate change is the most serious and pressing ecological challenge facing the world today. The reality of climate change compels us to both personal and structural changes.
Climate change, largely driven by our reliance on fossil fuels, has led to extreme weather events, rising sea levels, severe droughts, a loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and higher rates of migration which affect the poor and vulnerable in nations across the world.
Columban Missionaries around the globe stand in solidarity with communities impacted by climate change. In Burma and Peru, missionaries watch as glaciers, a main water and irrigation source, continue to disappear. In the Philippines and Fiji, extreme weather events and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities where agriculture and fishing are a main source of economic stability. Severe droughts cause food and water shortages in Pakistan and the U.S.
We advocate for sustainable development and agricultural systems.
Across the world, in countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals, extractive industries have inflicted lasting damage to poor and indigenous communities and to Creation. Based on their experience in communities negatively affected by mining and other extractive projects, Columbans challenge this model of development based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources.
Large-scale agribusiness has also been detrimental to the land and people. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten the integrity of creation and the life God made good, and they have extremely damaging effects on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and economies throughout the world.
We advocate for the right to water.
According to the Catholic Church, the right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of assessment that considers water merely as an economic good. Water, the basis for all human life, is a sacred source of life we must protect. Without adequate access to clean water, the health, nutrition, and sanitation of poor communities, and especially women and children, suffer. Without water, life is threatened.
Environmental Justice Resources:
“Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius and increase further with 2 degrees Celsius.”
Indigenous leaders from across the Amazon Basin met in Bogotá calling for the consolidation of the biggest environmental and cultural corridor in the world (Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz).
Sirito’s grandfather was a spiritual leader for his indigenous community, whose ancestral land is on the coast of Suriname in the Pan-Amazon region. When colonial hunters came to their land, Sirito’s grandfather prayed for the sea turtles and all the animals. Later, when the tourists came and polluted the local rivers, Sirito’s grandfather performed a ritual asking for the water’s forgiveness.
"What was the most significant event in history?" Miss Cahill seemed agitated when she strode into the class for her lesson, and started pointing to each girl in turn, speedily going round the whole class. "The industrial revolution" the first blurted out, and this was echoed by the rest of that row. Halfway down the second row, with Miss Cahill looking displeased, one girl remembered how religious she was and said, "The Birth of Christ". She seemed less severe.
Some of the types of aggressive deforestation done in recent years in Brazil in the name of economic development (Oregon State University)
This October the Church will hold its first ever Synod of Bishops on the relationship between the human and non-human natural world, focused particularly on the Amazon.
A Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region is scheduled to meet in Rome in October 2019 with the theme, 'The Amazon: New paths for the Church and for integral ecology'. Why?
Reading: Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.