09 The Asian Church’s response to the challenge of Climate Change - Janina Gomes

posted Apr 19, 2018, 9:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 19, 2018, 9:21 AM ]
Though many right-wing leaders choose not to recognise the grave threat posed to humanity and civilisations by Climate Change, and like ostriches with their heads buried in sand, choose to ignore the grave dangers it poses to the earth on which we live, the churches and religious leaders have been generally more receptive to the warnings of scientists about the dangers of not cutting down carbon emissions, that have sweeping effects on the ozone level of the atmosphere, accelerating pollution and consequent Nature upheavals propelled by Climate Change.

In response, Pope Francis wrote his beautiful encyclical Laudato Si' in which he has outlined our duty to nurture the earth and its resources and care for God's Creation. Worldwide, the churches have taken up the challenge, and in Asia, the Catholic Church has opened a special Climate Change Desk to create awareness and to take up all the issues connected with Climate Change.

Bishop Allwyn D'Silva, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, who is Secretary of the Office of Human Development and the Climate Change Desk in Asia says: "We in Asia are becoming increasingly aware and concerned regarding the ecological problem and its ethical implications. Local churches are collaborating with civil society to care for the integrity of Creation. The local concern against polluting the atmosphere, irresponsible mining and logging, destructive fishing, indiscriminate use of pesticides, dumping of e-waste, etc. now extends to the macro-issue of global warming and Climate Change, as well as to the need for intergenerational justice. This awareness, concern and action taken so far to meet this ecological challenge is being brought down to the grassroots level."

"In this context, we realise that rapid industrialisation of the economy, based on a materialistic model of capitalistic growth, as well as the development of industrial agriculture have left their emission-related mark on our climate. The growth model and the resulting lifestyle of the high and middle-income sectors of our society in Asia have exacerbated this crisis."

The impact of Climate Change is being acutely felt in Asia, and responding to this grave situation, the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) organised two seminars in Bangkok in 2011 and 2013. These seminars served to promote awareness and scientific understanding of Climate Change, as well as its ethical, moral and religious dimensions. The outcome of these seminars was the formation of a Climate Change Desk (CCD) and a Climate Change Committee to focus and follow up on this crucial issue at the Asian level. From December 4, 2016, Bishop Allwyn D'Silva was appointed Secretary of the Office of Human Development (OHD), FABC, which now includes the Climate Change Desk (CCD).