Vatican Echoes WCC Letter on ‘Peril’ of Climate Change

Climate change activists, both young and old, take part in the international Strike for Climate protest in Los Angeles, California on May 24, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published a commentary Tuesday stressing the importance of a recent pastoral letter by the World Council of Churches (WCC) on the “peril” of climate change.

“Our futures, the well-being of our common home, and the very existence of our species are at risk,” the Vatican warns, citing the WCC document.

The climate change crisis puts to the test “our faith in the creator, our love for creation, and our discipleship in the company of Jesus,” states the WCC text, signed by Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the group’s general secretary.

As other Christian leaders, such as Pope Francis, have done, the WCC laments the failure of the recent COP25 climate conference to reach new international commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the text states, we see that “nations are failing to keep pace with their commitments, that the dangers and damage of climate change are even worse than we feared, and that the time remaining for us to halt climate damage is less than we hoped.”

In the U.N. climate talks, “we learned that 200 nations have failed to respond sufficiently to the growing urgency of the climate crisis,” it notes. “The outcomes were disappointing, with no increased ambitions to address to scale the adaptation, mitigation, and finance that are needed.”

All of this despite the fact “the gap is widening between the steps taken by governments in response to the climate emergency, on the one hand, and the compelling scientific evidence and moral obligation to act, on the other,” it states.

The Vatican praises Rev. Tveit for calling all the faithful to “creative action” and “advocacy” in combating climate change.

As Pope Francis has done, Tveit holds up the example of “the strong voices of young people, including in the ‘Fridays for Future’ actions, in response to the climate crisis” as well as the input from indigenous peoples, “who are on the frontline of climate impacts.”

“The time for debate and disputation of established scientific facts is long over,” Rev. Tveit declares. “The time for action is swiftly passing.”

“We will all be held to account for our inaction and our disastrous stewardship of this precious and unique planet. The climate emergency is the result of our ecological sins,” he says, calling for conversion in order to face “this unprecedented millennial challenge.”

“Let us join in confronting this global crisis through concerted advocacy for climate change mitigation and adaptation, zero fossil fuel use, and a ‘just transition,’” he states.

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