Catholics to fast for climate action in 45 countries

By staff writers
February 23, 2015

The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) has announced that more than 45 countries will take part in a 40-day Lenten fast for climate justice.

The fast started on Ash Wednesday, 18 February and will end on 28 March.

Participants in the Lenten fast are praying for unity on climate change within the Catholic church and asking world leaders to take all steps possible to meet the goal of a global temperature increase of less than 1.5 degrees celsius (relative to pre-industrial levels), by means that include a fair, ambitious, and legally binding global agreement in the COP 21 summit in Paris.

On a personal level, the GCCM 40-day fast encourages participants to fast from food as well as the use of oil, electricity, plastic, paper, water, and toxins.

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the US-based Franciscan Action Network, said that the movement chose fasting for its first worldwide action because, "Pope Francis made it clear from the start that all people need to act as 'protectors of creation'.”

He added, “We encourage Catholics around the world to unite, pray and fast in solidarity with those who are most affected by the changing global climate”.

The initiative has been welcomed by Yeb Saño, the Climate Commissioner from the Philippines who captured the world's attention with his own fast during UN meetings following Typhoon Haiyan.

He said, "The power behind fasting lies in its purity of purpose and the sense of selflessness necessary to embark on fasting. This is the power of the fast – because it is meant for our aspirations of a better world."

Martin O'Malley the former Governor of Maryland in the US, is among those fasting. He said that the fast would inspire people of many faiths. "Uniting people of all faiths is the principle that we are called upon to be good and responsible stewards of God's creation,” explained O'Malley.

Ciara Shannon, coordinator of Our Voices in Asia, stated: "Amidst our busy, consumption-led lives, fasting during Lent is a great opportunity to reflect and abstain. The GCCM Lenten Fast also includes the option to do a carbon fast. This gives us a great opportunity to think about the food itself, how it is grown, how much water is used, how it is transported and then packaged. It always shocks me the amount of emissions that are involved."

The GCCM 40 day Climate Justice Fast is part of the 365 day #FASTFORTHECLIMATE which has been happening since the 1 December 2014, the start of COP 20 in Lima, and will continue until the 30 November 2015, at the beginning of COP 21 in Paris.

The GCCM Climate Justice Fast is also in collaboration with the Green Anglicans Carbon Fast and Our Voices Climate Fast.


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