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

  • Signs of the Time: The Amazon Is at the Heart of the Church

    From March 15 – 30, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach helped to host a delegation of indigenous and pastoral leaders from the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM). Indigenous and pastoral leaders from communities in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, shared stories of survival and hope. They were accompanied by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a Brazilian Franciscan, former archbishop of Sao Paulo Brazil, and a close friend and advisor to Pope Francis...

  • Mobilize for the Environment after REPAM Visit

    Thank you for your inspiring messages of solidarity and welcome! The delegation of Amazonian faith and indigenous leaders from the REPAM network brought your messages back home with them as they continue in their fight to protect their environments, spirituality, and way of life. During their time in D.C., these inspiring leaders taught us about the difficult realities of their communities, the ecological importance of the Amazon, and the urgency to answer the call in Laudato Si’ to care for creation...

  • Parched Spirits

    Like the air we breathe, water is essential for our life and well-being. The average person here in the U.S. uses 80-100 gallons in a variety of ways throughout each day. Indeed, water is so intertwined with our everyday life that we generally take this precious gift for granted, and pause to reflect on it only when we hear a story about the serious consequences that arise from its contamination. Unfortunately, in recent decades contaminated water has become a serious issue in some countries where...

  • 35 National Religious Leaders Applaud Republican Climate Resolution

    Today, 35 diverse religious leaders joined together to welcome a Republican resolution on climate change, introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-6), and fourteen other Republican members of Congress. Signatories of the letter, organized by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, include prominent voices from Evangelical, Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and other religious communities...

  • Columban Week of Action: Protect Creation

    Last Tuesday, January 24, the new administration signed an executive order signaling its intent to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines and expedite important environmental impact reviews of infrastructure projects. While these orders do not immediately restart the construction of either pipeline, they show the new administration’s support for increased extraction of fossil fuels. Columban Position: Columban communities around the world experience...

  • Support Bold Action on Climate Change

    In today’s hearing, Senators will ask the potential leader of the agency responsible for the protection of our clean air and water, the EPA, how he will combat climate change. As they do, you can make sure the next administration knows that people of faith expect bold action on climate change! Join Catholic Climate Covenant and many more faith partners in asking the new administration to answer Pope Francis’ call to all world leaders to act on climate! The petition will be delivered shortly after the inauguration...

  • Columbans Celebrate the United States’ Contribution to the Green Climate Fund

    Columban missionaries enthusiastically welcome the recent announcement of the United States’ continued contribution to the Green Climate Fund. As people of faith, we are called to address the unprecedented threat of climate change on behalf of all creation, but especially on behalf of the most vulnerable who contribute least to the problem. Climate change is a human-caused and urgent threat which necessitates a strong, moral response...

  • Columban Divestment and Positive Impact Investing

    We know both through our missionary experience, and by what global climate scientists tell us, that our human dependence on fossil fuels is a significant cause of climate change and its devastating consequences. Faced with this reality, in 2016, on the feast of St. Francis in a joint announcement coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement of catholic institutions around the world, Columbans pledged to take steps to divest from fossil fuels and move towards positive impact investing...