The climate issue is a matter of justice

Pope Francis has reiterated again that climate change – and how each individual plays a part in it – is a matter of justice. He was addressing a meeting organized by the Foundation for Sustainable Development on the theme of “Environmental justice and climate change”. Among the three hundred participants were representatives of religion, politics, economic activity and scientific research in various sectors, international organisations and those involved in the fight against poverty. The meeting took place in the Vatican on 11 September 2015.

According to the Vatican Information Service (VIS), the Pope reminded them that they “must not forget the grave social consequences of climate change”… “It is the poorest who suffer the worst consequences. Therefore … the issue of climate change is a matter of justice; it is also a question of solidarity that must never be separated from justice. … Science and technology place an unprecedented power in our hands: it is our duty to humanity as a whole, and in particular the poorest and future generations, to use it for the common good”.

“Will our generation be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities?” he asked. “Amid the many contradictions of our time, we have good enough reason to nurture the hope of being able to do so. And we should let ourselves be guided by this hope. In fulfilling this commitment, I hope that each one of you may experience the satisfaction of participating in actions that transmit life. The joy of the Gospel also resides here”.

We are all called upon directly to be responsible and fraternal, and to defend our dignity as people and citizens of the world “by virtue of the role that we occupy in the family, in the world of work, the economy and research, in civil society and in institutions”. This does not involve producing “improbable recipes”, as no-one has them, but rather bringing what we have understood to the dialogue. “Everyone is required to contribute with a view to attaining a result that can only be the fruit of a joint effort. The great enemy, in this aspect, is hypocrisy”, emphasised the Pope.

To this end, this dialogue needs to be inspired by “a vision as transparent as it is broad-ranging” and must proceed “according to an integral and above all participatory approach, including all interested parties, including those who more easily remain at the margins of institutional processes”. Francis urged those present to spare no effort, “so that at the tables in which a solution is sought to the unique and complex socio-environmental crisis the voice of the poorest may be heard”, since “this too is a duty of environmental justice. Faced with the emergency of climate change and looking ahead to the crucial appointments scheduled for the coming months – the approval of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations at the end of this month and above all the COP 21 in Paris at the beginning of December – I wish to propose that this dialogue become an authentic alliance leading to truly significant and effective global environmental agreements”.

“Along the way you can count on my personal support and that of the Church, starting with the indispensable contribution of prayer. From now on I offer to the Lord our joint effort, asking His blessing so that humanity may finally know how to listen to the cry of the land – today our mother earth is among the many excluded who ask for help from Heaven – our mother and our sister, and of the poorest among us who inhabit the earth and care for her. In this way creation will increasingly resemble the common home that the sole Father imagined for us a gift to the universal family of His creatures”, concluded Pope Francis.

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