Care for Our Common Home

May 19, 2021

May 19, 2021

In February I wrote a blog about the book co-authored by the World Parliament of Religions and the United Nations Environment Programme entitled Faith for Earth: A Call for Action. The authors intent for the book was to raise an awareness of the importance of a moral voice to enter the movement for climate justice.

Since that time the Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in collaboration with Catholic Climate Covenant and the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers have published the Ecumenical and Interreligious Guidebook: Care for Our Common Home also asserting the integral role that faith has to play in care for creation. This book, available for free download at https://www.usccb.org/resources/care-our-common-home, discusses environmental issues and major themes of Catholic Social Teaching, provides examples of hands-on projects, models of dialogue for adult faith formation gatherings, topics for ecumenical and/or interreligious dialogue on creation care, homily helps and suggestions for prayer and meditation.

At the local level in Cincinnati, the Green Umbrella, an alliance of the multiple environmental groups in the tri-state area, has initiated an impact team entitled “Faith Communities Go Green” (FCGG). Although Green Umbrella is not associated with any religious tradition, the board and directors recognize what a significant role faith communities can play in environmental sustainability. This impact team seeks to partner with religious communities to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all by mobilizing their moral voice to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change and working with religious communities in collaborating to integrate care for creation in their lives and society.

The FCGG impact team has three working groups:
The Advocacy Working Group which provides timely information on emerging policy and legislation, information on how people can inform themselves at greater depth, and policy makers’ contact information, for faith communities to use as they will. They also model faithful stewardship of the planet by encouraging congregations and faith-based endowments to divest in fossil fuels.
The Education/Lifestyles Working Group which aims to inspire the diverse faith communities within the Greater Cincinnati area to reduce their carbon footprint by recognizing the moral and spiritual value of creation care and by making sustainable lifestyle choices an integral part of the educational and liturgical life of their faith communities, and
The Facilities Working Group which works with houses of worship and religious institutions in the Greater Cincinnati area to reduce their environmental impact by lowering their carbon footprint through implementation of actions described in a Facilities Toolkit.
The Education/Lifestyles Working Group is currently taking a survey of all houses of worship in the area to determine what congregations are already doing to address climate change; to see what more information and/or help is needed; and to see what individual congregations might have to offer to others. Be sure your faith community fills out the survey. It will be sent out to congregational leaders, but you can also find it on our website at www.greenumbrella.org/faith.

If you are interested in becoming more active yourself, think about joining a committee. New committee members are always welcome. You can do this by going to the website listed above and clicking on the group leader for the group in which you are interested.

A recent article by the Comox Valley Climate Change Network provided an excellent overview of why the faith voice is so important in addressing climate change. It lists the following:
• For many people climate change is something they cannot see. Faith groups believe in a reality they cannot see.
• Those who decide to deal with climate change often report having a personal revelation or awareness. Faith group members are used to the idea of having personal revelations.
• A willingness to deal with climate change requires a sort of personal conversion or transition that brings a new awareness and a commitment. Faith groups are built around conversion and commitment.
• Climate change involvement requires recruiting large numbers of citizens to the cause. Faith groups are experienced in recruiting people to a cause.
• Climate change has significant moral and ethical implications affecting the poor countries and individuals everywhere living in poverty. Faith groups have strong moral and ethical values and have had a long history of concern for the poor.
• Climate change requires individuals who are willing to witness to their beliefs, often in the face of hostility and ridicule. Faith groups expect their members to witness to their beliefs. (The word “witness” comes from the Latin “martyr” meaning martyr.)
• The battle against climate change often requires civil disobedience. Many faith groups have a history of civil disobedience.
• Climate Change involvement acknowledges that we are all responsible for the problem and the need for forgiveness and compassion for our failings. Faith groups believe in forgiveness and compassion.
(The entire article from which the above is taken can be found at:
http://www.comoxvalleyclimatechangenetwork.ca/website/earth-spirituality/)

Faith communities can play a crucial role in addressing climate change. The moral voice of multiple faith communities coming together around issues of climate justice can be the tipping point that is needed to bring about the changes needed for the common good of all humanity.

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