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Prayer climate in Notre Dame

PARIS (SE): The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France, played host to an Ecumenical 

Celebration of Creation on December 3, as the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change was completing its fourth day of negotiations.

The packed cathedral welcomed representatives of the Global Catholic Climate Coalition, Caritas Network, Franciscan Action Network and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.

Many people from the people’s pilgrimages that have made their way to Paris from all over the world were also among those who shoehorned themselves into the 850-year-old cathedral.

The red of several cardinals, including Claudio Cardinal Hummes, from Brazil, who presented the Catholic Climate Petition to the delegates at the conference, stood out, as did the robes of the Orthodox, the Anglicans and Lutherans, and the uniformed Salvation Army.

At the invitation of the archbishop of Paris, André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, the mixed-nationality, mixed-faith congregation united in concern for climate justice.

The multiplicity of nations represented was illustrated with the praying of  the Lord’s Prayer in many languages.

The prayer vigil in Notre Dame was a climax of a full year of prayer in Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Churches, Islamic mosques, Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues and the streets of our cities and countrysides, where people have marched 280,000 kilometres, or seven times the circumference of the earth, in a call for climate justice.

Ellen Teague reported that while the street marches and gatherings have been festooned with banners bearing slogans and prayers, no one dared to shatter the august, sacred atmosphere of the historic cathedral with such clutter.

Teague said, “Perhaps the unity of the congregation was more apparent because of the lack of banners, which can also be a barrier separating various groups of people.”

Nevertheless, she said that there was plenty of colour in the symbols of creation carried by young people; olive oil, a piece of pottery, cotton cloth, musical instruments and a boat.

A large blue globe was held high, as little children’s hands supported and passed it from one to another, and Yeb Saño, the climate ambassador from OurVoices, said, “We are aware that creation is a gift entrusted to us and that we are responsible to future generations for the whole of the Earth.”

Hearts were touched by the words of Patriarch Bartholomew, known as the Green Patriarch, when he said that the followers of Christ must be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Teague called his comment a pat on the back for the Christian climate campaigners and a fitting introduction to the final greeting from the Council of Christian Churches of France.

It said in a statement read out at the conclusion of the vigil, “We call on political and economic decision-makers, especially those gathered at the Conference of Parties on Climate Change, to take decisions necessary to limit warming to two degrees Celsius so that the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters and future generations do not suffer more.”

Teague concluded, “The vigil was an important highlight of Christian concern for the creation being recognised in liturgy and of solidarity among Christian climate campaigners gathered in Paris.”


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