Survivors of environmental degradation urge a fast from harming creation for Lent

Survivors of environmental degradation
urge a fast from harming creation for Lent

Statements of witness contrast with proposed budget in the United States

Release date: February 1, 2018
Media contact: Reba Elliott, 1.202.717.7228, [email protected]

A new Lenten calendar brings together 40 statements of witness from the front lines of environmental degradation and urges the global community to fast from harm to creation. This new contribution to the conversation on climate change among people of faith is especially relevant as a proposed White House budget calls for crippling cuts to funding for renewable energy.

The stories in this publication reveal the connections between environmental harm, human consequences, and opportunities for change. Speaking from their own experience of the day-to-day effects of climate change and pollution, the witnesses urge the global faith community to consider the harm they do to our common home during the liturgical season of repentance.

This message has special relevance as leaders in the United States deepen their commitment to environmental destruction. By proposing the elimination of funding for clean energy, a small set of federal leaders is attempting to settle decades’ more reliance on dirty fossil fuels into the national conscience.

In contrast, the statements in this publication represent a globally united call that is in line with Pope Francis’ statement that we “realize that a healthy relationship with creation . . . leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change.” (Laudato Si’, 218)

Each witness’s statement is paired with a specific suggestion for ways to reduce environmental harm. An excerpt is below.

Among the 40 voices included in the publication are speakers from six continents. These include:
A mother in Cape Town who is managing a household of 10 people on one-quarter the water use per person in the United States. The related suggestion is to install a low-flow faucet.

A father in India who has seen children’s lungs prematurely aged by air pollution. The related suggestion is to choose clean transportation.

A young woman in Portugal who has seen malaria arrive with a changing climate. The related suggestion is to reduce heating and air conditioning use.

The publication includes photos that can be reprinted. It also includes facts on environmental harm and quotations from scriptures and faith leaders. Interviews with speakers are available.

Tomás Insua, Executive Director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, said “Pope Francis has called us to repent of harming our common home. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that our choices have real consequences, right now, for our brothers and sisters around the world.”

Insua continued, “Despite what a small group of folks at the federal level would have us believe, technologies like clean energy are a real opportunity to live out the values of our faith. The leadership that is shown by some of our sisters and brothers in the global South is a model for getting there. We have a good chance of solving this if we take strong action right now.”

Rachel Mash, Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Environmental Network, said “Lent is a time to reflect on ways that we have saddened God’s heart by hurting God’s people and damaging God’s world. In forty days we cannot change the world, but we can make a world of difference to our own attitude and lifestyle choices. This Lenten fast, let us join the dots between our actions and the impact on our brothers and sisters around the world. May we walk more simply on this Earth so that others may simply live.”

This resource comes from a global perspective, and will be distributed to a global audience through versions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. It is available both online in and for download to print, and includes a discussion guide for use in parishes and faith communities.

Lent is the 40 days Christians mark for praying and fasting in preparation for Easter. This year Lent begins February 14.

Global Catholic Climate Movement is a global network of 650+ member organizations and thousands of Catholic people responding to Pope Francis’s call for action on climate change in Laudato Si’.