Catholic climate petitions for 1.5 degrees Celsius upper limit submitted to political leaders from US to Australia

November 25, 2015

All around the world, from Australia to the US Catholic’s petitions for strong and quick action to keep global warming beneath 1.5 C are being presented to political leaders in each country.  Yesterday, Jacqui Remond, head of Caritas Australia, delivered the GCCM’s Australian petitions to Julie Bishop, Australia’s Commonwealth Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trading.

Nearly 730,000 signatures have been collected thus far and 1 million expected by this weekend—the Global Catholic Climate Movement will be joining other faith groups in Paris on Saturday where some 2 million signatures in total will be hand-delivered to United Nations and French officials.  The GCCM petition has been signed in over 130 nations, as well as cardinals and bishops around the world, including Pope Francis’s Ceremonieri, Monsignor Guillermo Karcher. (Pontiffs, as a rule, do not sign petitions. But they can throw their weight behind them.)

At a recent Pakistani climate march with representatives of the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Christian communities, Archbishop Joseph Coutts (Karachi), and Bishops Benny Traves (Multan) and Rufin Anthony (Rawalpindi/Islamabad) signed GCCM’s petition, sponsored in part by Columban missionaries.

The Church in Kenya will also make a strong environmental statement when young people present tree seedlings for blessing during Pope Francis’ encounter with more than 200,000 young people at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, the penultimate event on the Kenyan leg of his trip. Among those expected to present the tree seedlings are representatives of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), which promotes Catholic social teaching on care of creation among young people. CYNESA is also a co-founding member of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM).

Cardinals Theodore McCarrick OFM (Archbishop Emeritus of Washington DC) and Seán Patrick O’Malley (Boston) signed on last week, adding to the number of high-profile US Catholics taking part.

On Tuesday, a delegation of representatives of the GCCM delivered to the White House this morning the over 20,000 petition signatures from US Catholics. Melissa Rogers, of president’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives received the copies.  Jason Miller of the Franciscan Action Network assisted with the ceremony.

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Ann Scholz of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a member of today’s delegation, remarked, “Climate is a common good given to all and meant for all. Each of us has a responsibility to cooperate with God to protect our common home and to care for all of creation. The LCWR is hopeful that the 2015 Paris Climate Conference will lead to a robust agreement to protect our common home for present and future generations.”

Marianne Comfort representing the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Institute Justice Team stated “Our sisters in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Philippines who are experiencing melting glaciers, rising sea levels and devastating storms have been crying out for our action on this issue. We hope that world leaders at the international climate talks in Paris in December will take heed of Pope Francis’ moral imperative to work for a more just and sustainable world.”

“In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis encourages us to see the connections between environmental destruction, the poor, and our Christian vocation,” stated Jason Miller of the Franciscan Action Network. “With the U.S. as one of the world’s largest carbon polluters, we are called to find ways to act in solidarity with the poor who are most vulnerable to our changing climate.”

In addition to those quoted, Chloe Schwabe of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns and Scott Wright of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach were also part of today’s delegation.

The full text of the petition states: “Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people among us. Inspired by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si’ encyclical, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”