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/ 25 October 2021

Christian leaders urge protection of creation as ‘COP’ summit approaches

Brian Cuthbertson outlines the joint message by Archbishop Justin, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew. 

Few can now be unaware of the major international climate conference (known as COP 26) in Glasgow, commencing 31 October 2021.

The leaders of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity have signed a Joint Message for the Protection of Creation at this crucial moment for God’s world.

Archbishop Justin, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew have reminded us that:

  • As we have learned from the Covid pandemic, no-one is safe until if everyone is safe. This is even more true in relation to the natural environment and the climate.
  • What we all do now crucially affects what happens tomorrow and into the future. We must choose to live differently. As God said to Moses and the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19, “Choose life, so that you and your children might live”.
  • We are all called to listen to the cry of the earth and of the poor, to examine our behaviour and pledge meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth.
  • We need to avoid short term measures which are like building on sand. Instead we need to build on rock, so that our common home may withstand the storms that are to come.

“But we have taken the opposite direction”, maximising our own interest at the expense of future generations, depleting the bounty of nature, accumulating unrestrained wealth, behaving without concern for other people, or for the limits of the planet. “Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are the inevitable consequence of our actions.”  But “the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences … are the poorest … and the least responsible for causing them”.

These consequences are already with us, visible over the last few months in floods, fires and droughts. “Tomorrow could be worse.”

Now we need to repent and head back the right way, to “pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work and use money…. We must choose to eat, travel, spend and invest and live differently… If we think of humanity as a family and work towards a future based on the common good, we could find ourselves living in a very different world”.

The three primates – speaking together on the environment for the first time – call on us all to pray for the participants in COP 26, and for its outcomes, and for the future of the world.  They conclude that “Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it”.

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About Brian Cuthbertson

Brian is the Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London.

Read more from Brian Cuthbertson

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