“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:
- Download our Laudato Si’ Study and Action Guide
- Columban Creation Covenant
- Columban Statement on Climate Change
- Columban Statement on Water
- Columban Statement on Extractive Industries
- Current Statements and Press Releases
On behalf of Columbans worldwide who see intimately the devastating impacts of climate change on both the human and non-human world, we offer our prayers especially for the people of Fiji and other small island nations as well the world leaders who have gathered in Bonn, that meaningful action will be taken to keep a commitment to the 1.5 degree threshold agreed to in Paris.
Faith communities vigorously oppose the administration's decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan. Our faith traditions see the care of creation and protection of the vulnerable as two of humanity's fundamental responsibilities. Below are the responses of many different faith groups to this decision.
A new group of 40 Catholic institutions are divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in renewable energy as part of their response to the urgent call Pope Francis sounded in the Laudato Si’ encyclical and in response to the COP21 statement of Catholic Bishops from all continents. One year ago today, the Missionary Society of St. Columban announced that it would be divesting from fossil fuels over the next five years, and reinvesting in renewable energy: Seven Catholic Organizations Divest from Fossil Fuels on Occasion of Feast of St. Francis
This year, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have challenged each of us to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized. Both leaders have warned that the human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together. This deterioration, they note, weighs most heavily upon the poor and vulnerable.