A diverse group of faith leaders and scientists gathered both in person and virtually at the Vatican on Oct. 4 to discuss faith, science and climate ahead of the COP26 climate meeting taking place in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.
Participants were from all the major faith traditions and included representatives from multiple Christian denominations, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh leaders.
“We come together united to raise awareness of the unprecedented challenges that threaten our beautiful common home,” a joint appeal issued by the participants stated.
“We are deeply interdependent with each other and with the natural world. We are not limitless masters of our planet and its resources. … We are caretakers of the natural environment with the vocation to care for it for future generations and the moral obligation to cooperate in the healing of the planet,” the appeal emphasized.
“We must address these challenges using the knowledge of science and the wisdom of religion. We must think long-term for the sake of the whole of humanity,” the statement said. “Now is the time to take transformative action as a common response.”
Pope Francis echoed many of the themes from the joint appeal in his remarks, asserting, “We cannot act alone, for each of us is fundamentally responsible to care for others and for the environment.”
“Each of us has his or her religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, but no cultural, political or social borders or barriers prevent us from standing together,” he said. “To illumine and direct this openness, let us commit ourselves to a future shaped by interdependence and co-responsibility.”
Urging nations to adopt plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in order to avoid global temperatures rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the appeal emphasized the need to adopt clean energy, enact sustainable land use practices, and formulate plans to help industries and individuals make the necessary workforce transitions.
The faith leaders committed themselves to continue working “to bring about a change of heart among members of our traditions” regarding creation care and sustainable living, to engage with local and national entities to create sustainable communities, and to align “financial investments with environmentally and socially responsible standards.”
“Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children,” the appeal concluded. “We appeal to everyone to join us on this common journey.”
This gathering and joint appeal follows a Sept. 1 joint statement on creation care from Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. All three were part of the Oct. 4 Vatican gathering.
Emphasizing the importance of good stewardship of Earth, the three Christian leaders urged Christians to “not waste this moment” and to “decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations.”
Tearfund, a UK-based Christian charity, has partnered with Renew Our World and 24-7 Prayer to create a COP 26 Prayer Guide. The eight-week guide provides a brief reflection, relevant biblical texts and several action items for each week.