The Church in the run-up to COP 21
Christians and Climate Change: we can do more than we realise
The negotiations of the UN Climate Summit COP 21, which takes place in Paris towards the end of the year, presents a great challenge to our planet and to the whole of humanity. Inspired by the appeal launched by Pope Francis, the COMECE bishops held their autumn plenary assembly in Paris as a sign of their great engagement with the climate change issue.
“All Christians have gone on the march and Churches have gathered their forces”, declared Jean-Pierre Grallet, Archbishop of Strasbourg and French bishop-delegate to COMECE. He announced a wide range of activities launched by Christians across France and the wider Europe in the occasion of COP 21: pilgrimages, conferences, fasts and occasions of prayer. “We would like to thank all Church organizations, NGOs and the Christian faithful for this extraordinary commitment”.
“This commitment must not just come to a sudden halt after COP 21 has come to a close in December: it must go on”. This was the message of former EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. She and Cardinal Reinhard Marx had been invited to an open debate in the College des Bernardins on Thursday 29 October. In the case where the COP 21 is successful, Cardinal Marx insisted that “the agreement must not be empty promises”. He emphasized that the Church and Christians must be creative in developing alternative lifestyles, which can inspire the whole of society. “Parishes and Christian communities must become not only biotopes of faith, but also biotopes of a new lifestyle”.
This is the lifestyle conversion advocated in a report submitted to the COMECE bishops by a group of experts. This report was commissioned by the bishops and will be published in Brussels in mid-November.
The refugee crisis was also the focus of attention at the Plenary Assembly. The European bishops re-enforced the statement issued by the Standing Committee on 9 September. “The flux of refugees to Europe places the countries on our continent before enormous challenges. Yet these challenges can be overcome, if we Europeans consider them as a shared responsibility and cooperate for their resolution.” The Bishops emphasized how it falls to the governments of the 28 member states to overcome their differences, in a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, so as to meet the needs of thousands of women, men and children, who seek refuge in Europe.
After and exchange of views and experience as to how the challenging humanitarian crisis posed by the arrival of refugees in their separate countries, Monsignor Ägidius Zsifkovics, Bishop of Eisenstadt and Austrian member of COMECE, was commissioned to co-ordinate a working party which, on the basis of the experiences gathered in the various countries, might make a suggestion to the bishops as to how to proceed in this regard.
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