En route to the Philippines, Pope Francis, promoting his upcoming encyclical on the environment, said that he believes global warming is largely man-made and hopes that the upcoming climate change meeting in Paris will be productive:
I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said. “We have in a sense taken over nature.”
“I think we have exploited nature too much,” Francis said, citing deforestation and monoculture. “Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it.”
As Pope Francis promotes the publication of his encyclical the Global Catholic Climate Movement, a network of Catholic groups determined to fight the climate crisis, is off the ground across the world. In America Magazine, Nathan Schneider reports on global momentum for climate justice across the Roman Catholic Church and what it might take for followers of Jesus to resist corporations deeply integral in the fossil fuel economy.
Meanwhile, as people in the Philippines await a visit by Pope Francis, climate justice organizers are urging Pope Francis and the Vatican to divest from fossil fuels and move investments into the renewable energy economy. Working with 350.org, Yeb Sano, Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, writes:
“The climate change crisis is a reflection of a profound global moral crisis, and as such Church organizations play an important role in untangling us from this mess. One way this can be done is for the Church to examine not just the purity of its vestments but where it puts its investments.”
In the Episcopal Church, billions of dollars are invested by individual parishes, dioceses, and institutions like the Church Pension Fund and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to fund mission. These investments, like the Vatican and other institutions within Christendom such as the Church of England, are integral with our fossil fuel economy.
Will the Episcopal Church, following a 2011 Pastoral Teaching from the House of Bishops in Quito, Ecuador, come to the conclusion that one way to “work toward climate justice through reducing our own carbon footprint and advocating for those most negatively affected by climate change” is to more fully bring our sacramental tradition into our practices in finance and investment committee meetings?
What might it mean to pray, think theologically, and act as Episcopalians on the love we have for our sisters and brothers across the Anglican Communion by connecting investment returns with social impact and solidarity in Christ? With billions in investments across the world, some of which are tied up in fossil fuels, Episcopalians have the means. But will Episcopalians, whose fifth Mark of Mission is to “safeguard the integrity of creation” join others by divesting of fossil fuels and reinvesting in renewables? Do Episcopalians have the will inside of boardrooms and in church committees to stand up for the integrity of creation, and join people in places like the Philippines, by moving our treasure more closely with where our heart is in Jesus?