“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:
“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced” (LS, 26).
The Synod of the Amazon is not only for Latin America, it is also for us on this side of world, and for the circle of life. It is indeed a Synod for life.
It was through my association with the Columban Sisters that I began to learn just how crucial the Subanen culture is as a voice on behalf of a renewable Earth. The Subanens regarded their habitat as a sacred community to be cherished, not as a collection of resources to be exploited.
There is a worldwide movement underway, an awakening at last to the seriousness of the environmental crisis at hand. The future of the planet and humanity depends on it.
On the fourth anniversary of the document that inspired the Church to take better care of God’s creation, we have the responsibility to keep that work alive.
A new spirituality of creation is emerging, one deeply tied to the fate of the Earth. The stakes – the fate of the Earth and future generations – are high. Indigenous communities and women play a crucial role. The spirituality of creative nonviolence is deeper and more holistic, rooted in the gift of creation.
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.