With the completion of the presidential debates and Election Day just around the corner, the issue of climate change is weighing heavily on my mind. Whoever wins the election will have the power to transform the climate change debate. Last November, the international community reached a landmark agreement, the Paris agreement, which aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, promote adaptation to climate change, and hold warming to under 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels...
“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 the second day of my environmental justice advocacy internship here at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion about the effects of climate change on Latino Communities in America. Coming into my internship I was uneasy with the topic of environmental justice. Yes, I understood climate change and its current and potential disastrous impacts, but I had no personal experience with climate disaster. I could not...
Yesterday marked the Feast of St. Francis and the conclusion of this year’s Season of Creation. Thank you for sending pictures with your Columban Creation Covenant and showing us how you committed to caring for creation this September! Here are a few highlights from our Season of Creation Campaign! The celebration of Season of Creation may be over, but our commitment to our common home must continue. Now, more than ever we must take seriously our responsibility...
On October 4, the European Union voted to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement, officially paving the way for the historic agreement to go into effect. With the EU’s approval, it crossed the threshold of 55 nations accounting for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.Columbans around the world celebrate this momentous step on the part of many nations, including the United States, China, India and the EU, to bring the world one step closer to implementing this crucial...
Hong Kong, October 4, 2016. Inspired by Pope Francis and in honor of September’s Season of Creation and the Feast of St Francis, the Missionary Society of St. Columban pledges to take steps to divest from fossil fuels. In addition, we commit to putting resources into Positive Impact Investing alternatives. Pope Francis is leading the way for Catholic institutions to choose a Divest – Reinvest strategy when he writes in the encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, that...
As a native of New England, I have never lost my love of fall and its majestic beauty. Eagerly, I await the magic of leaves transitioning to red, yellow and orange colors, fall flowers blossoming and all God’s creatures preparing for winter. Back home, a neighbor’s yearly complaint that squirrels were taking his precious acorns now makes me laugh. He never did anything with those acorns other than sweeping them up and throwing them away to spite the squirrels. Looking back, he did...
We Columbans at the U.S.-Mexico border find our monsoon rains a wonderful relief at this time of year. It’s great for us, because rain doesn’t fall very often here. In the midst of the great Northern Chihuahua Desert, both El Paso and Juarez—host cities to our mission center and our parish—usually experience over 300 sunny days a year, making the sun an especially attractive and affordable source of renewable energy for our communities. Our own Columban Mission Center had 22 panels installed four years ago on the roof of our two-story building in downtown...
We live in a world radiant with beauty and one that is also crying out for redemption. The entire Creation is filled with the beauty and colors of the Seasons of Creation, at the same time it is groaning under the impact of climate change: extreme weather events, devastating floods and severe droughts, rising sea levels and melting glaciers, disappearing habitats, and disappearing species of life. But this drama is not confined to the climate alone. In recent decades transnational mining companies...