“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:
Columban missionaries see close-up the growing threat of a massive depletion of natural resources and destruction of the environment caused by Extractive Industries. We challenge the model of development promoted by many multinational corporations, governments and international financial institutions that is based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources.
2020 is the second and final year of the 116th Congress. As the entire world becomes more aware of the urgency of addressing climate change, the United States has a moral responsibility to take bold action towards a sustainable future.
Advent invites us to have both the patience of “the farmer [who] waits for the precious fruit of the earth,” but also the urgency and impatience of “the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (Jas 5:7, 10) and announced God’s kingdom.
There needs to be persistent common efforts to overcome machismo and clericalism in our Church in general and in the Church of Amazonia in particular.
St. Columban, known for his mystical relationship with the natural world, is quoted as saying, "if you want to know the Creator, know Creation." Today, Columban missionaries carry this spirituality of care and respect for Creation as integral to our missionary identity and way of participating in God’s mission.
In the face of a global climate emergency, massive forced migrations, global inequality and violence on a global scale, we are called to see in the “signs of the time” the seeds of a new future, of ecological conversion, moving forward with hope and courage befitting a Spirit that comes anew “to set hearts on fire” and “to renew the face of the Earth.”
Copyright © 2021 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.