Environmental Justice

“To know Creation is to know the Creator.” –St. Columban

For more than 30 years, Columban missionaries have been at the forefront of protecting the environment from destructive practices and addressing the urgency of climate change. Our mission experience of living with the natural world and with communities that have been marginalized and exploited impels us to seek ways to restore right relationships with all of Creation.

We advocate for bold action to address Climate Change.

In particular, human-induced climate change is the most serious and pressing ecological challenge facing the world today. The reality of climate change compels us to both personal and structural changes.

Climate change, largely driven by our reliance on fossil fuels, has led to extreme weather events, rising sea levels, severe droughts, a loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and higher rates of migration which affect the poor and vulnerable in nations across the world.

Columban Missionaries around the globe stand in solidarity with communities impacted by climate change. In Burma and Peru, missionaries watch as glaciers, a main water and irrigation source, continue to disappear. In the Philippines and Fiji, extreme weather events and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities where agriculture and fishing are a main source of economic stability. Severe droughts cause food and water shortages in Pakistan and the U.S.

We advocate for sustainable development and agricultural systems.

Across the world, in countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals, extractive industries have inflicted lasting damage to poor and indigenous communities and to Creation. Based on their experience in communities negatively affected by mining and other extractive projects, Columbans challenge this model of development based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources.

Large-scale agribusiness has also been detrimental to the land and people. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten the integrity of creation and the life God made good, and they have extremely damaging effects on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and economies throughout the world.

We advocate for the right to water.

According to the Catholic Church, the right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of assessment that considers water merely as an economic good. Water, the basis for all human life, is a sacred source of life we must protect. Without adequate access to clean water, the health, nutrition, and sanitation of poor communities, and especially women and children, suffer. Without water, life is threatened.

Environmental Justice Resources:


Environmental Justice

  • Call on World Leaders to Work for Climate Justice

    Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States is over, but we are still standing in awe of his message of peace, solidarity, and love. In his addresses to Congress, the United Nations, and the World Meeting of Families, the pope consistently returned to a few key themes: responding with justice to the poor, welcoming the immigrant and caring for creation. Columbans in the U.S. and around the world welcomed and celebrated these messages. During his visit, we fasted with the Global Catholic Climate Movement, stood...

  • Take Action for Creation on September 1 

    Join us for a special global day of prayer for creation! Pope Francis has declared September 1 to be the World Day of Prayer for Care for Creation.  He is doing his part to respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Will you join us? It starts with prayer.  As a community, make use of the Columban Season of Creation prayer resource. There’s a prayer and worship guide for each Sunday in September. As an individual, we offer this prayer from Laudato Si’...

  • Support the Historic Clean Power Plan

    Last week, President Obama released a historic step toward reducing our carbon footprint—the Clean Power Plan. The first of its kind, the Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in the United States (our country's single greatest source of climate pollution) and do our part in addressing global climate change. The Clean Power Plan is significant and do-able. The scientific consensus is that climate change is a global crisis and each nation needs to do its part to reduce carbon...

  • Columbans Celebrate the Release of the Clean Power Plan, Urge State Leaders to Act

    Columban missionaries welcome and celebrate the release of the Obama Administration’s highly anticipated Clean Power Plan, which will require states to drastically limit carbon pollution emitted by power plants. Scott Wright, Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, said: “Since the Clean Power Plan was first announced, Columbans have been actively engaging with the faith community, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Columban missionaries serving the...

  • Columbans Welcome Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment

    Praised be! Columban missionaries welcome and celebrate Pope Francis’ newly released encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. This encyclical marks a historic moment in the Church as the first encyclical addressing the human relationship with all of God’s creation. Laudato Si’ deepens the contributions of previous papal documents that addressed the relationship between humans and the natural world. Pope Francis asks, “What kind of world do we want to leave to...