“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:
As we celebrate Holy Week during this age of ecological crisis, we have an opportunity to begin to imagine this new culture. The life of Jesus and the events of Holy Week give us the materials to do this.
Our spiritual traditions are deeply enriched by the spirituality of indigenous peoples rooted in the gift of Creation. As Christians, we know that the joy of Easter is the victory of Christ over death, and that life, not death, will have the last word.
We are living in the sixth major extinction of life since life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago. The last time something similar happened was at the end of the end of the Mesozoic period 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were wiped out.
“Myanmar’s biodiversity is a reflection of the diversity of it’s peoples. And their lives are intertwined and interconnected.”
I believe it is about time to look after and care for our environment and every creature. Time to take care of our true treasure.
The Covid-19 pandemic has paralysed life at a global level in a short period, and made us realise the interconnectedness and fragility of the world we live in. The next disaster looming on the horizon is climate change, and the impact on the poor, like now, will be disproportionately high.
Copyright © 2021 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.