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“Climate change is an ecological and moral emergency that impacts all other aspects of our shared lives and requires us to work together to protect our common home” – that’s the message from more than 500 religious and scientific leaders in the US-state of Massachusetts. The Episcopal Church’s bishops of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts, Alan Gates and Doug Fisher, were amongst those who endorsed the Faith and Science Joint Appeal for Climate Action last week, as was Cardinal Seán O’Malley from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
“All of us . . . must do our utmost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect our communities from the catastrophic impacts of climate change,” the joint appeal says. “We especially call upon our political representatives to address the climate crisis with the boldness and urgency it requires, with substantive and immediate action.”
The emerging coalition of faith leaders and scientists came about after the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, Phil Duffy, contacted Cardinal O’Malley. The Revd Dr Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, missioner for creation care for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, told the Episcopal News Service that the coalition was “an extraordinary, even unprecedented, alliance between religion and science.”
The publication of the joint appeal coincided with the third anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.
“As followers of Jesus, we seek to build a society that is marked by mercy, justice, and hope,” Bishop Doug said. “The only way to love God and our neighbour is to preserve the conditions that allow life on Earth to flourish, which begins with a habitable climate. Our emerging coalition of faith and science illuminates a basic truth: climate disruption is not only a scientific issue, but also a deeply spiritual and moral issue.”
Bishop Alan added: “This coalition is a strong rebuttal of three all-too-commonly-held fallacies: that faith and science do not align – they do; that climate change is a partisan political issue – it is not; and that we have plenty of time to figure out solutions to this crisis – we don’t! I am grateful for the opportunity to move beyond these mis-judgments and get on with the work that our stewardship of God’s Creation demands.”
“I view this initiative as strong encouragement to Episcopal congregations to learn about climate science, to engage in conversations about climate change as a moral and spiritual concern, and to take effective action,” Dr Bullitt-Jonas said. “In order to protect ‘our common home’ and to break our dependence on fossil fuels, Americans need both head and heart.
“Facts and reason alone will not motivate us to change course; we also need stories, prayer, and ceremonies, the power of imagination and a vision of hope. Together with scientists, we can speak with one voice about the sacredness of God’s Creation and the moral imperative to protect it.”