10 Catholic initiatives caring for creation
The global Catholic Church is united in its efforts to care for our common home and stave off the worst effects of the ecological crisis and climate emergency. Every day, clergy, regular people, and organizations throughout the world care for all members of creation.
Organizations play an especially vital role in this global effort. As part of Global Catholic Climate Movement, nearly 750 Member Organizations lead their communities to take action against the climate crisis.
Below we have highlighted 10 Member Organizations doing exemplary work all over the world. Click here to learn more about Member Organizations, including how your organization can become one and join this movement today.
Iglesias y Minería, the churches and mining network, is made up of Christian communities, pastoral teams, religious congregations, and bishops’ conferences that seek to respond to the impacts and violations of socio-environmental rights caused by mining activities in Brazil, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, and Guatemala, said Guilherme Cavalli of the Iglesias y Minería.
The network especially encourages organizations and parishes to put their values into action by divesting from mining.
The prophetic stand was endorsed in the final document of the Synod on the Amazon, which stated: “… we embrace and support campaigns of divestment from extractive companies responsible for the socio-ecological damage of the Amazon, starting with our own Church institutions and also in alliance with other churches.”
Based in the U.S., the Ignatian Solidarity Network works to “network, educate, and form advocates for social justice animated by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the witness of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and their companions.”
Throughout the year, the network hosts leadership programs and organizes advocacy efforts, such as its ongoing work around asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Annually, ISN organizes the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. The event brings more than 2,000 people to the U.S. capital to advocate for Catholic social justice.
The Federation of Christian Organizations International Voluntary Service (FOCSIV) started its world-changing work nearly 50 years ago, in 1972. FOCSIV is now made up of 87 organizations working in more than 80 countries worldwide.
The federation has employed 27,000 international volunteers and young people in civil service and remains committed to long-term development projects in agriculture, the defense of human rights, and institutional strengthening, among other areas.
In September, FOCSIV, with the Italian Episcopal Conference and other organizations, published the “Guide For Integral Ecology,” which features 20 inspiring case studies that will help all organizations bring Laudato Si’ to life.
“FOCSIV is committed with conviction to integral ecology,” Gianfranco Cattai, FOCSIV president, said in the guide.
Maxwell Ikutwa, a youth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Mukumu, and Emmanuel Musungu
Wesonga work at a diocesan model tree nursery in Mukumu, Kenya.
(photo by CJPC Kakamega)
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Kakamega works year-round to bring justice, good governance, peace, and community progress throughout the diocese.
The diocese is hosting numerous programs at the moment, including about 15,000 whistling pine seedlings at nurseries, which are also supported by the Global GreenGrant Fund. The seedlings will help afforestation efforts in the area.
CIEC, Confederación Interamericana de Educación Católica, or Interamerican Confederation of Catholic Education, works with its members throughout the Americas to evangelize through education, share the principles of a strong Catholic education, and promote solidarity among its members.
CIEC has encouraged and helped its members take part in numerous creation care campaigns, including Laudato Si’ Week and the ecumenical Season of Creation earlier this year.
“Inspired by Laudato Si’ 13, ‘Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home,’ the FABC-OHD/CCD strives to reach out to the various episcopal conferences in Asia to highlight the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, as this is reality in many Asian countries,” said Father Joseph Gonsalves, executive secretary of the office.
“The FABC-OHD/CCD envisages a green church adopting a green lifestyle and fostering a green evangelization to people of various faiths. The office envisions that the people in Asia embrace a green spirituality to care for our common home and to be sensitive to the needs of the poor.”
During the 2020 Season of Creation, Gonsalves wrote an e-booklet titled, “Reflections on ‘Aqua Fons Vitae. Orientations on Water: symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth,’” referring to the document the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released in March 2020. Aqua fons vitae is Latin for “water is a source of life.”
The office invited everyone to immerse themselves in the month-long season by reading the Vatican’s text, the federation’s e-booklet, and by taking action.
If your parish is looking to become more active in creation care, look no further for an example than the Parish of St. Joseph and St. Anthony in Brisbane, Australia. The parish’s care for creation group works to “lovingly respond — both prayerfully and by positive practical action — under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor and is active with events throughout the year.
Father Gerry Hefferan encourages such actions and frequently speaks about the need for all mankind to care for God’s creation.
“It is essential that we protect the Earth from human greed,” he wrote on the final day of the Season of Creation. “As we know, sometimes human greed can have devastating effects. How do we protect the heritage, artwork, spirituality, and ancient understandings of creation?”
Australia, surrounded by water, is especially at risk of suffering from the worst effects of the climate crisis, such as rising sea levels.
“Catholics do care about climate change and they’re working hard to create solutions.”
Since 2006, the Catholic Climate Covenant has been galvanizing Catholics and institutions in the U.S. to remember that caring for creation and caring for the poor are key tenets of the Catholic faith.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops helped create the covenant nearly 15 years ago to help implement Catholic social teaching on ecology in the U.S. Church.
Among the covenant’s accomplishments in recent years, the covenant and its 19 national partners helped facilitate a letter from more than 125 Catholic leaders to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to support the Clean Power Plan.
“As Catholics we have a covenant with God to be stewards of creation. As humanity we are bonded because we are both living in God’s creation, and we are God’s creation. Our common home has cried out to us many times: hurricanes, flooding, dying reefs, massive fires, and droughts that hinder our ability to grow food, disrupting lives and displacing millions,” said Elena Gaona, the covenant’s director of communications.
“At Catholic Climate Covenant, we say our mission is to inspire and equip people and institutions to care for creation and to care for the poor. The second part is especially important to all our work because it is communities living with poverty who are affected first and most by climate change, but their daily living habits contribute the least to pollution.”
La Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid has consistently shared Laudato Si’s unifying message of caring for creation in recent times. Now the Regnum Christi institution will work even closer with GCCM after signing a formal agreement in October.
The document lays out ways the university will protect creation and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Among the actions mentioned in the agreement are plans to promote sustainability in homes, communities, and institutions, and to advocate for creation care inside and outside the Catholic Church, an effort that will include asking leaders to care for our common home and to care for those most affected by the climate emergency.
The Climate Justice Coalition is a group of South African trade unions, civil society, grassroots, and community-based organizations that have united to advance a “transformative climate justice agenda” that tackles the “inequality, poverty, and unemployment that pervades South Africa,” according to 350 Africa, a member of the coalition.
GCCM Africa is also a member of the coalition, and Bernadette Crewe-Brown represents GCCM in the faith-based aspect of the coalition.
“I am motivated by my belief that a just and peaceful world where everyone is living in harmony with our Earth and each other is possible if we all listen and hear each other, as Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’,” Bernadette said.
“The most important drive right now is a just energy transition, which includes fossil fuel divestment… It is imperative that the vulnerable and poverty-stricken poor are protected through this transition.”