“If it is true that ‘For wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be too.’ (Mt 6:21), then we cannot be faithful to our faith while making money from fossil fuels. We cannot be true to Jesus if we are making money out of the suffering of others,” said Rev. Abby Mohaupt, GreenFaith’s Director of Education and Training.
Indeed, by divesting “there is moral and social change. As people of faith we have the power to push fossil fuels out,” Mohaupt added.
The latest UN climate report (IPCC) has provided hard data on the loss of biodiversity, “it doesn’t mince words, it tells us the truth,” said Martin de Jong, Advocacy Advisor for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and member of the LSM Global Membership Council.
In this context, the Laudato Si’ Movement organized a meeting to answer various questions about the report and analyze why it is so important for each region of the world, with key speakers including Mohaupt and Jong. It was moderated by Dr. Carmody Grey, Associate Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University.
Delaying integral human development
ather Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, responded to the question of what communities can do in the face of this report.
For him, it is fundamental “to recover the vision of integral ecology. Faith communities must show a humane view of the problem of biodiversity loss. Behind all this there are human lives suffering,” he said. So this “is retarding integral human development”.
The priest is concerned that “3.3 billion people are going to be attacked by the climate crisis in different regions”. That is why “the climate crisis should be called a climate emergency,” he said.
Father Joshtrom recalled that in 2021 in Glasgow, at a meeting between the Vatican and the IPCC directors, they said that what they love about Pope Francis is integral ecology.
“Fossil fuels are leading this crisis. We have to join our efforts toward divestment. Ending them is the way to a sustainable and peaceful world.”
He recommended communities to join the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which already involves universities, parishes and Catholic groups seeking to contribute to ecological change.
WATCH: The complete event
An economy that kills
From Zambia, Father Charles Chilufya, coordinator of the Working Group on Africa of the Vatican’s Covid-19 Commission, mentioned the “loss of life” indicated by the IPCC report: “The houses that have been washed away by the rain are actually human beings and their lives that are being washed away”.
“In Africa we are suffering from the climate crisis, which affects us a lot because there are multinational corporations coming to take away our power,” Chilufya detailed, encouraging people to “raise their voices for a new economy for the continent.”
“The problem is that we have an economy that kills, that allows investment in fossil fuels without taking into account its consequences. Governments want to continue with this line of gas despite knowing the negative impact it causes on people,” said the priest.
He pointed out that faith is the way to “ask for a life-giving economy. Because we are currently facing an ethical problem”.
Against indigenous peoples
Miguel Angel Cadenas Cardo, bishop of Iquitos, Peru, in the Peruvian Amazon, pointed out the importance of the energy transition, encouraging institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
The bishop said that in the border area between Peru and Ecuador there is hydrocarbon extraction, and in spite of being a territory where several indigenous peoples live, “the extraction is thought from national identities, against the indigenous peoples”.
“Only 3 or 4% of what is extracted is reinvested in the Amazon,” he said, listing the billions of tons of heavy metals that are spilled as waste in the rivers of the Amazon.
Next, Davide Panzeli Bio, director of European affairs and liaison with ECCO’s European networks, mentioned that “the transition has a cost in relation to people’s lives”, which is why he called for a step-by-step approach.
She also pointed out the importance of investing money “in new energy matrices, in sustainable and new green energies”.
Finally, Svitlana Romanko, Ukrainian and head of the Zero Fossil Fuels campaign of the Laudato Si’ Movement, made a brief intervention in which she expressed: “Fossil fuels are a weapon of mass destruction”.
“Europe is waking up from dependence to Russian gas. We call for justice and peace to all institutions that are committed to a just transition. As Catholics we are contributing to prevent the destruction of creation and that devastating war. We have to make an economic and ethical commitment to divest,” he said, encouraging institutions to join the next divestment announcement on July 5.