A call to climate action for 'our common home'

By David Atkinson
June 19, 2015

Pope Francis, in a hugely important, indeed historic, Encyclical on care for God's earth, our 'common home', has written a letter to "every living person".

It is a document that is accessible, rooted in biblical and Catholic social teaching yet fully alert to contemporary thinking, and in which the Pope calls for all people to recover our consciences and take urgent action.

He underlines the interconnectedness and interdependence of all creation. He believes that humanity has been damaging the earth through an approach to technology and economics which ignores moral values and leads to increasingly damaging and wasteful consumption, and this impacts mostly on the poorest communities.

The cry of a deteriorating earth is also the cry of the poor - for whom God calls us to give highest attention.

Climate change is one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day, and the Pope calls politicians to find a way of moving urgently towards minimising dependence on fossil fuels, strengthening energy efficiency, developing renewable sources of energy, and reshaping economics.

We need to move from a paradigm of technological power, to a new lifestyle rooted in spiritual and moral values.

Francis also urges all people, particularly Christians, to reawaken a grateful and sacrificial spirituality which will help us recover our sense of our human oneness with nature, as well as our special calling under God to be "protectors of God's handiwork".

* Ekklesia research: 'Climate change and the Christian gospel: why we need to respond more urgently', by Bishop David Atkinson (May/June 2015): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21667

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© David Atkinson is the former Bishop of Thetford in the Church of England. After a short career as a chemistry teacher he was ordained in 1973 and became an Archdeacon in Southwark diocese before his bishopric. Dr Atkinson is a widely published author, not least in the areas of Christian ethics and biblical responsibility. He is now an assistant bishop in the diocese of Southwark and chaired Operation Noah’s theology think-tank. This met and corresponded during 2011 and 2012 to produce the Ash Wednesday Declaration, launched on 22 February 2012. His essay 'Climate change and the Christian gospel' was published by Ekklesia in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.

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