Bishops Discuss Institutional and Educational Challenges of Ecological Conversion, Sign Appeal to World Leaders Regarding Climate Change

October 20, 2015

Bishops from around the world are signing an appeal to world leaders meeting in Paris next month for climate change talks.  Representatives of regional bishops’ conferences from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania, are expected to sign the appeal Monday, along with other Cardinals, bishops, and patriarchs.

Pope Francis called the fossil fuel-based world economy “structurally perverse” in his encyclical, Laudato Si’ and called for nations to get off fossil fuels “without delay” (LS 165), to protect all life.

US bishops have been slower to join their brothers.  While Latin American bishops reached out to and convinced their North American colleagues to begin to pay attention to the effects of extractive industries on their parishioners, justice issues fall below “life” issues in the hierarchy of activities at the US Catholic Conference of Bishops.  Though climate and pollution issues are frequently “life and death” as well, they have yet to receive acknowledgement or attention as such.  Consequently, climate change takes second place to abortion, marriage, and same-sex marriage for many in the US church leadership.

Next week , while Republican candidates will be debating in the US, bishops from around the European Union will be meeting in Paris to discuss Climate Change.  The Plenary Assembly of the 27 Member Bishops of COMECE will  be held in Paris in the premises of the French Bishops’ Conference (Avenue de Breteuil) from October 28-30.

By meeting in Paris, ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), the COMECE Bishops wish to send a strong message and to communicate their concerns about Climate Change.

During their meeting, a high representative from the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs will inform the Bishops of the latest developments in the negotiations ahead of the COP21.

The COMECE Bishops will also hold an exchange on the Ethical, Social and Economic dimension and implication of Climate Change with Elena Lasida, lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the Catholic Institute of Paris.

They will also examine a draft report of the Ad Hoc working group of COMECE on Climate Change and Sustainability to be finalised and published in November in Brussels.

US bishops have not announced their participation, but the conversation is expected to be vigorous.  An evening debate on Thursday October 29th will address “The institutional and educational challenges of the ecological conversion.”  Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of COMECE, will address the above theme together with Ms Connie Hedegaard, President of the Kann Foundation and former EU Commissioner for Climate Action.  The first part of the debate is expected to be broadcast live, though it is unknown whether translation will be provided.