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A pledge for the earth

HONG KONG (SE): The Global Catholic Climate Movement launched a worldwide campaign to recruit one million Catholic people to keep the message of Pope Francis on caring for God’s creation alive two years on from the publication of Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si').
The movement seeks to keep the message of the landmark encyclical at the forefront of Catholic consciousness by promoting the importance of reducing energy use and the need for clean energy in their own communities and countries.
At the launch of the campaign held in Manila, The Philippines, on June 17, the day prior to the anniversary of the publication of the encyclical, the director of the movement, Tomas Insua, described it as aiming to push its campaign by inviting people to sign the Laudato Si Pledge as a way of “answering Pope Francis’ urgent call.”
The pledge, which is available on the Internet at, reads, “I pledge to: Pray for and with creation; Live more simply; Advocate to protect our common home.”
The Philippines was chosen for the launch, not only because of the enthusiasm for the movement that has been demonstrated for environmental justice among its people, but also because it has been what Insua described as a ground zero for the impact of climate change.
He pointed to the series of typhoons that the country has endured over recent years, especially Typhoon Haiyan, which left at least 6,300 people dead and possibly tens of thousands of others who are still unaccounted for.
Signing up will put people in the circle of a series of Global Catholic Climate Movement programmes aimed at supporting them in putting their pledge into action.
The activities will be run during the Season of Creation, which runs through September to what Pope Francis has dubbed Earth Day, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the earth, on October 4.
Insua, said, “Pope Francis helped transform the climate debate by reframing it as a moral issue. Now is the turn of the Church to walk the walk and bring the encyclical’s message to life.”
Insua said that the Catholic Church is well positioned to carry out this task because of its size and worldwide presence. He points to the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, as well as the hundreds and thousands of parishes, schools and other institutions.
He added that apart from the influence the Church may have in the wider community, because of its size its own carbon footprint is significant, so even internal action to reduce this will be significant.
But caring for the climate, which Pope Francis has described as being a common good, is not only an outward thing, but an essential part of living faith.
He quotes Pope Francis as saying that the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all, but then adding that for Christians, care for creation is also an essential part of their faith.
“It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognise the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions,” the pope wrote in his encyclical.
“The gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which requires patience, self-discipline and generosity, always keeping in mind that realities are greater than ideas,” the pope continued.
By describing care for creation as a moral issue, Pope Francis has placed it right at the centre of living the Christian life.
Franciscan Sister Sheila Kinsey, a co-secretary of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the International Union of Superiors General, describes the Laudato Si Pledge as a demonstration that the common good is something that is cherished in the Church and in the hearts of the Catholic people.
“We are part of a global family and we realise that our actions affect the whole world,” Sister Kinsey said.
She described the community dimension of the campaign as its greatest strength, as people, by recognising that they are doing their part, create a type of momentum, “which creates a climate… that things can change.”
The archbishop of Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, John Cardinal Ribat, said at the launch that his own area of the world in Oceania is also a type of ground zero, because of the delicate balance of its ecological makeup.
“On behalf of the vulnerable communities of Oceania, I urge all Catholics to join and support this important effort to bring Laudato Si' to life,” Cardinal Ribat said.
Others who have endorsed the pledge so far are eco-theologian Father Sean McDonagh; Pax Christi International president, Marie Dennis; Franciscan Father Richard Rohr; May Boeve, the executive director of the grassroots climate organisation; and former climate executive secretary for the United Nations, Christiana Figueres.
“Now more than ever, the world needs to heed the moral imperative of Laudato Si and step up to the bold and urgent action that is necessary,” Figueres said.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement has championed grassroots action for Catholics to address climate change, whether as individuals or within their local communities.
It has also partnered the movement and other climate action organisations in large demonstrations and marches.
The Laudato Si Pledge is the second worldwide signature drive undertaken by Global Catholic Climate Movement, the first coming ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Paris in 2015.
It collected 900,000 signatures on a petition to negotiators to reach a deal that sought to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Filipino people, who have lived at ground zero in the impact of climate change, provided more signatures than any of the 135 countries that participated.

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