“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:
Where else is the infinite creativity of the Triune God emerging as we move beyond the suffering toward transformation, liberation, and new life? Hopefully some of it is in our renewed efforts to change our lifestyles and reduce our reliance on fuels which are damaging our environment.
This week, Catholics around the world celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical letter on ecology, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. This year the letter takes on new meaning, as we live in the midst of a global pandemic, compounded by a global epidemic of forced migration and the threat of global economic collapse.
History teaches us that pandemics can change things dramatically. Covid-19 will also change history dramatically.
The Synod marks a turning point, a before and after of the Church. It is a ray of light that affirms hope in a time of great darkness. This current historical moment is full of storm clouds that prevent us from seeing the way forward with clarity. The synodal conversion is an invitation to embrace with passion the way of God which is given to us in this moment.
Every morning on the news and every evening, we hear the drumbeats of possible war with Iran or North Korea; we hear, too, the cry of the victims we will likely never meet, and the names of places in Syria, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in other far off lands we will never see.
On this webpage are nine steps you can take to pray over what scripture and our Catholic tradition says about God’s creation, learn about the pervasive and often hidden impacts of extractive industries, and act in solidarity with the cries of our wounded earth and vulnerable communities.
Copyright © 2021 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.