For years, Berta and the Lenca communities fought to block the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam. The dam would have flooded large areas of land and cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for the Lenca peoples. Berta was one of many activists who had been persecuted and received death threats for her work to defend their sacred rivers, forests and lands from further desecration. Take Action for the protection of environmental activists and their communities!
“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 February 20-21, the island nation of Fiji was hit with a devastating, category 5 cyclone. At last count, UNICEF reported that Cyclone Winston, the worst storm on record to hit the southern hemisphere, has now left over 51,000 Fijians homeless, many without clean water or electricity. Columban missionaries have lived and worked in Fiji for over 60 years. Columban Father John McEvoy writes from Fiji, “The nation is numb, shell-shocked an...
With a week since Cyclone Winston hit and devastated the island nation of Fiji, reports continue to reveal the depth and breadth of the tragedy. Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neill, offers prayers for the people and land of Fiji saying, "Our hearts ache for the suffering caused by Cyclone Winston. The images of human and environmental devastation urge responses of aid, mercy, compassion, love, and solidarity. On behalf of Columbans around the world, we extend our...
Exactly one year ago, the Columbans in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States helped give birth to the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), in anticipation of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si: On the Care for Our Common Home. In May, Pope Francis met with the leaders of GCCM and endorsed our petition, inviting us to promote awareness among Catholics about the moral implications of the climate crisis. A month later, on June 18...
On February 9th, President Obama released the final budget of his presidency. This jumpstarts the long process of funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2017. While it may not sound like the most exciting topic to follow, the budget and appropriations process significantly impacts some of the programs Columbans care about most deeply. One such effort is the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Green Climate Fund is a global fund established to support the...
Last year, the Pope Francis released his groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, to much acclaim and celebration. Audiences, Catholic and beyond, studied the text for guidance on how our faith calls us to live in right relationship with creation and with our fellow humans beings. Here at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, we crafted a study and action guide on the encyclical, with questions for reflection along with calls to action. Appropriate for use for individuals and small groups...
Over the past few weeks, we have been closely covering the Paris climate negotiations, or the 21st annual United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21). After months of pre-planning by member nations and two weeks of intense talks between climate negotiators, the conference released the final agreement on Saturday. What does this mean? In the final agreement, countries agreed to increase their individual commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of keeping global...
We are now one week into the United Nations climate change summit. As negotiators from countries across the world meet in Paris to craft a hopefully binding agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2° C, representatives from the Columbans are actively witnessing the proceedings. Join the voice of Columban witness today and call the White House to express your support for a legally binding, comprehensive climate change agreement! Father Charles Rue from...