For the first time, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion came together to issue a joint statement.
In “A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation,” Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury stressed that Christians need to take part in mitigating climate change. The statement urged individuals and public leaders to play their part in “choosing life” for the future of the planet, and warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on poverty, and the importance of global cooperation.
“Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment,” the statement reads. “This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”
In the statement, the three Christian leaders call on people to pray during September, which is the liturgical season of Creation. They also asked people to pray for governmental leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland this November.
“As leaders of churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behavior and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us,” the statement reads.
The ecumenical statement comes less than a month after the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that humans were “unequivocally” to blame for near-catastrophic global warming.
The leaders highlighted the importance of advocating for environmental justice for people living with poverty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also face a profound injustice,” they wrote. “The people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.”
They also urge individuals to make meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the planet, to work together and take responsibility for how they use their resources. And, they called on those “heading administrations, running companies, employing people or investing funds” to choose “people-centred profits” and lead the transition to just and sustainable economies.
“Nature is resilient, yet delicate,” it reads. “We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it ... We must pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work and use money, instead of selfish gain.”