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

  • Critical Climate Conference Begins Today

    Today is the opening of the 21st annual United Nations climate change conference! Referred to as the ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP), this gathering of world leaders will take place during the next two weeks. Taking place in Paris, the city will welcome 50,000 participants and 25,000 official delegates today for this historic summit. For the first time, world leaders will attempt to craft a legally binding agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2° Celsius, in an attempt to...

  • UN COP 21 Summit Opens in Paris

    Today, world leaders are gathered in Paris for the U. N. Climate Summit (COP21), providing a window of opportunity for people around the world to raise their voices in calling for ambitious and binding international legislation to limit the effects of climate change before it is too late. Columbans are in Paris today for the opening. On November 29, a million or more men, women and children took part in the Global Climate March. They gathered in all the major capitols of the world, and...

  • Columbans Call for Just and Binding Agreements at the UN COP21 in Paris

    Columban General Council on the opening of the United Nations’ COP21 in Paris, joins Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’, faith leaders and millions of people around the world in calling for just and legally binding agreements by governments to limit human-induced carbon emissions which are changing Earth’s climate. Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neill, “Our mission experience of living with poor communities that have been marginalized and the natural world that has been...

  • Protect the Environment: Join the Global “Countdown” to Paris!

    The countdown to the international climate negotiations in Paris, officially called the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), has begun. World leaders will gather in Paris from November 30th to December 11th to reach a universal agreement to reverse climate change. One of the topics of discussion will be the practice of fracking. Columbans in many areas of the world accompany poor communities that suffer from harmful mining practices...

  • Urge Your Member of Congress to Support Climate Change Resolution

    Pope Francis’ words to the American people on his U.S. visit made one point very clear: we must act now to protect and preserve our common home. In order to do this, the pope called on members of the legislature, during his historic address to Congress, to work together and transcend boundaries in order to, ‘defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.’ A recent resolution...

  • 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...