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Bishops back today’s school strike on climate change

By Cian Molloy - 20 September, 2019

Irish language climate change protestors (Pic Coiste na bhFocal Nua)

Today’s Global Climate Strike by young people across the country has the backing of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace.

Schoolchildren in primary and secondary schools intend to leave their classrooms and take to the streets in a repeat of the worldwide demonstration that took place last March when 1.6 million people took to the streets calling on governments and politicians to take firmer action to reduce the impact of climate change.

Because of an exponential increase in carbon emissions resulting from the consumption of fossil fuels, the earth’s average temperature is increasing, precipitating catastrophes across the world. Warmer oceans mean violent storms are becoming more frequent, the melting ice caps are causing sea levels to rise and low-lying coastal areas to be inundated, and climate change is likely to cause mass extinctions.

“I support this mobilisation of young people and all those with a love for the environment to actively highlight the vulnerability of our fragile ecosystem,” said Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe, who is chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace.

“I applaud their example of leadership in order to protect our future generations. In his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si’ ‘On Care for Our Common Home’, Pope Francis pointed out that caring for this beautiful planet, which we share together, is a moral duty in its own right.”

In that encyclical, the first to be addressed to the peoples of the world and not just members of the faith, Pope Francis wrote: “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.”

Bishop McGuckian believes that young people have to be at the forefront of this renewal and he says he and his fellow bishops “wish to stand with them in calling for a radical ecological conversion”.

The Jesuit bishop added: “We also wish to raise our voices for our sisters and brothers in the poorest parts of our world, who are already feeling the devastating effects of climate change. A grave injustice of climate degradation is that those who contributed least to the problem will be affected most.

“My key message today is: wherever we call home it is incumbent on all of us to live responsibly, and in a sustainable way, always thinking of our neighbour.”

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