Pleas from church leaders as climate talks falter on the brink

By Ecumenical News International
December 17, 2009

As the global climate talks grind to an end, with significant problems emerging for a conclusive deal, the Pope and a group of Christian leaders and international church organisations have made pleas to heads of powerful nations to show moral courage in making decisions for all of creation.

Peter Kenny writes: In a message released ahead of the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said, "'If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation," and he warned against the misuse of "the earth and the natural goods God has given us".

Quoting from the Roman Catholic Church's catechism, Benedict said, "Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because 'creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God's works', and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind."

In Copenhagen, police and demonstrators confronted each other outside the venue of the UN climate summit on 16 December, with leaders from developing nations inside the hall denouncing their counterparts from the rich and powerful world, driving up tension.

In the Danish capital, a high-level ecumenical delegation that includes Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, sent a message directed at those trying to hammer out an international agreement on climate change.

"As government leaders you now must show moral leadership out of love for humanity and creation. Do not be afraid, act now!" said the delegation, including leaders of the World Council of Churches and from Europe, North America and the Pacific.

In his message, the Pope noted that "man's inhumanity to man" has caused many threats to peace and to real human development through "wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights".

"Yet," the Pope noted, "No less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect - if not downright misuse - of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen 'that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.'"

The ecumenical leaders stated, "Do not be afraid to make the decisions that must be made for all of humanity and for the future of creation. Do not be afraid to act for justice and for love. Do not be afraid to make a fair, ambitious and legally-binding agreement. Do not be afraid, act now."

The Pope's statement can be found here:

The Ecumenical message is at:

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]

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