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This statement was made by the Catholic Bishops of Australia, on the invitation of the Climate Institute, Australia. It is one of 16 statements from different faith traditions. Link here for all 16.
“Rapid climate change as the result of human activity is now recognized by the global scientific community as a reality. As pastors of more than a quarter of the Australian population, we urge Catholics as an essential part of their faith commitment to respond to the reality of climate change – with sound judgements and resolute action.
“For our part, the Catholic Bishops of Australia offer the hand of cooperation to all spiritual and secular leaders in Australia. We do so in an act of solidarity, knowing that the Earth is our common home. Religion knows the natural world has value in itself. It belongs to God and is only on loan to humans, who are called to care for it. Therefore, the world and all in it must be freed from what can be termed ‘a state of suffering’.
“Humans are part of the created world, and inextricably part of a material existence. We are indebted to the scientists, environmental activists, rural people, foresters, fisher people, writers, artists photographers, educators, business people, government officials society leaders and all who have helped humanity become aware of the dangers of climate change, and create human choices for an alternative future. Such people show that humanity elevates itself when it reaches for a heightened consciousness of Life on Earth.
“Future generations should not be robbed or left with extra burdens. Those who are to come, have a claim to a just administration of the world’s resources by this generation. We need to keep in mind the Precautionary Principle: where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing remedial measures.
“Each sector of the community has a role in imagining and building a future Australia with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
“Consumers send powerful signals to the market by their greenhouse-friendly choice of goods and services. We dream of a fuller view of humanity, greater than a mere owning of more material goods.
“The three levels of government have duties of leadership to take decisions for the common good and the future of the nation. Internationally, Australia must continue to support structures that help reduce global warming. Strengthening biodiversity compliance and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol seem but minimal.
“Business must appreciate that models of development, social structure and styles of technology must integrate environmental factors if there is to be authentic development. ‘Super-development’, often for the purpose of economic gain, poses an additional threat to the environment.
“Profit is a limited goal and needs to be linked to socially and environmentally responsible ethical investment. Promoters of unsustainable lifestyles harm the environment now and will ultimately make Australia weaker. Infrastructure planners, the building sector, transport, manufacturing, electrical generation and related industries can all promote energy saving and seek alternative energy sources. Farmers and foresters do well when they respect nature’s rhythms. Ultimately profit is secondary to ecologically sustainable living.
“The right to a safe ecological environment is a universal human right. As one of the world’s biggest emitters per capita of greenhouse gases, Australians have a particular duty to recognize the fact that they are directly implicated in the causes of atmospheric pollution. This is harming the many innocent peoples of the Pacific region, whose ecological footprint is radically lighter than our own. Of immediate concern are environmental refugees coming from our Pacific neighbours. More than periodic emergency relief they need long term structural help, debt relief, equitable trade policies and technological change.
“Warfare has multiple negative environmental impacts and eats up much of the world’s financial resources. Therefore, we urge the choice of dialogue and cooperation. Catholics wish to participate in a future where all sectors of the community go beyond sectarian interests, secular and religious differences.
“Our clear call as human beings is to renew the harmony between ourselves, our Creator and our world. We call on Catholics to lead by example.”
“Care for the Earth must become our purpose, and vocation.”
Copied with permission from Alliance for Religions and Conservation, www.arcworld.com