The call to wonder at the beauty of creation and in doing so giving praise to God is inherent in all faith traditions. There is also an inherent responsibility on all believers to work to protect this beautiful gift of God for future generations. We are surrounded by undeniable evidence that human activity is rapidly destroying God’s beautiful creation and the need to act is urgent. We believe that the combined spiritual resources of the faith traditions is a crucial component in guiding humanity away from its current destructive path to a more holistic and interconnected mode of living for the good of all creation.
The Faith Ecology Network (FEN)
FEN is an Australian interfaith network dialoguing about the connections between faith and ecology. It is administered by the Columban Mission Institute’s (CMI) Center for Peace, Ecology and Justice. The website contains common statements about water, climate change, safe food and Earth our common home. http://faithecology.net.au/
The Earth Charter
The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. The Earth Charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. However, the Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. It provides, therefore, a new, inclusive, integrated ethical framework to guide the transition to a sustainable future.
The Earth Charter is the product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values. The Earth Charter project began as a United Nations initiative, but it was carried forward and completed by a global civil society initiative in June 2000. http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/
Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE)
The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University is the largest international multi-religious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns. http://fore.research.yale.edu/
GreenFaith is an interfaith coalition for the environment that was founded in 1992 in New Jersey, U.S.A. They work with houses of worship, religious schools and people of all faiths to help them become better environmental stewards. GreenFaith‘s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. http://www.greenfaith.org/
The Global Catholic Climate Movement
The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a global network of 400+ member organizations and a community of thousands of Catholics, responding to the Pope’s call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical. We are lay people, priests, religious and bishops working together to tackle the climate change crisis: http://catholicclimatemovement.global/
National Religious Partnership for the Environment
The National Religious Partnership for the Environment brings together a diverse alliance of faith institutions and leaders in order to bring voice and action on behalf of caring for God’s Creation. NRPE offers resources and accounts of how people of faith are acting upon God’s mandate to be stewards of God’s Earth.
Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES)
IFEES is a UK based charity, founded in the mid-1980’s, dedicated to the maintenance of the Earth as a healthy habitat for all living beings. They network world-wide and invite collaboration from organizations and individuals of all persuasions who agree with their vision. http://www.ifees.org.uk/
Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)
ARC is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices. It was founded by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1995 and now works with 11 major faiths. ARC helps and encourages faiths to use their far-reaching influence and resources for the widest possible environmental benefit, specifically in six key areas: Land and Assets, Education, Media, Health, Lifestyle and Advocacy. http://www.arcworld.org/
Greening Sacred Spaces
Faith & the Common Good (FCG) is a network, founded in 2000, of people from different faiths and cultures who call Canada home and believe in working towards the common good. Greening Sacred Spaces, one of their programs, is a practical program to assist faith communities in taking actions to create more sustainable, energy efficient places of worship and to educate their communities about ecological issues. http://www.greeningsacredspaces.net/
South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
This is a multi-faith organisation established in 2005, committed to supporting faith leaders and their communities to increase awareness, understanding and action-taking on eco-justice, sustainable living and climate change issues. http://safcei.org/
Creation Justice Ministries (CJM)
Founded in the USA, CJM educates, equips and mobilizes Christian communions, denominations, congregations and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God’s creation. They are not exclusively Christian and welcome partnership and collaboration with those who feel called to care for God’s Creation regardless of religious affiliation. http://www.creationjustice.org/
Faith, Economy, Ecology, Transformation Working Group
This is a loose coalition of mostly faith-based organizations and individuals in the U.S. who believe that humanity is being called to radically change its interactions with each other and Earth. They endorse the founding document, “A Call to Integrate Faith, Ecology and the Global Economy”, and work to embody the paradigm shift described in it. They work together for changes at all levels of society to help build a New Creation that is inclusive of all and that fits within the physical capacities of Earth. https://faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com/
Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences [FABC]
The FABC has many resources. Check out their website at http://www.fabc.org/index.html.
Among them is Towards Responsible Stewardship of Creationz: An Asian Christian Approach by Fr Clarence Devadass, Executive Secretary, FABC-Office of Theological Concerns.
What Some World Religions Teach about the Environment
A Buddhist faith statement on the Environment was prepared by representatives of Engaged Buddhism in Europe, Cambodian Buddhism, Ladakhi Buddhism, Mongolian Buddhism and Vietnamese Buddhism, http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=66
“Towards Collective Action: A Buddhist View of Laudato Si“, by Jonathan S. Watts, a paper presented to the Jesuit Social Center of Tokyo located at Sophia University on 19 October 2016.
Also available on the website of the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB) at http://jneb.jp/english/activities/buddhistenergy/international-project-on-energy/watts-buddhist-view-laudato-si
Francis. Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Vatican: Vatican Press, 2015.
A selection of quotes from Pope Francis on Creation and the Environment. The pdf can be downloaded at: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/POPE-FRANCIS-Quotes-on-Creation-Environment.pdf
The Office of Theological Concern (OTC) of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC) has recently published “Towards Responsible Stewardship of Creation: An Asian Christian Approach.” The publication is a result of the study undertaken by the theologians of FABC Office of Theological Concerns reflecting on the issue of ecology and its impact on Asia. It presents briefly the position of some major Asian traditions on ecology and further explore the issue of ecology from a biblical and theological perspective. The pdf can be downloaded at: http://www.fabc.org/offices/otc/Towards%20Responsible%20Stewardship%20of%20Creation.pdf
Ten key Hindu teachings on the Environment by Pankaj Jain.
The pdf can be downloaded at: http://www.greenfaith.org/religious-teachings/hindu-statements-on-the-environment
“A World of Green Muslims” is a blog that shares what is happening in the Green Muslim world. All the latest news, views and reviews are featured alongside profiles of green Muslim organisations and bloggers. https://aworldofgreenmuslims.wordpress.com/
Ten Jewish Teachings on the Environment by Rabbi Lawrence Troster.
The pdf can be downloaded at: http://www.greenfaith.org/files/Ten%20Jewish%20Teachings%20on%20the%20Environment.pdf
Judaism and Human Environmental Responsibility
Human-induced climate change is the most serious and pressing ecological challenge facing humankind today with severe impact already being felt in the human and natural world. All of Creation is under threat and if it continues on its present path, it will bring untold death and suffering to millions of humans and other creatures. Columban priest Sean McDonagh writes:
Climate Change should be a top priority for the Catholic Church if the church really believes that its mission is for the flourishing of the life of the world.
Columbans join people of other faith traditions who are already working on the issue of climate change inspired by the resources of their traditions. By working together, the potential of greater effectiveness and a wider awareness leading to joint action can be achieved.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR)
The PWR enters 2017 convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the reality and basic causes of climate change are settled science. We are also convinced that the evidence for the danger posed by human-caused climate change is irrefutable. For all persons of good faith, 2017 must be a year of action to reduce human caused greenhouse emissions and to prepare for and address the inescapable consequences of the changes we have already imposed upon the planet.
The PWR, acting with the leadership of its Climate Action Task Force, seeks to encourage and enable collective and individual action to reduce and counter the adverse impacts of human-caused climate change. The Task Force bases its mandate in the Interfaith Call to Action of October, 2015 and December, 2016.
COP22 Interfaith Climate Statement, November 2016
Statement by Religious, Spiritual and Faith-based leaders for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) during the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), 10th November 2016: http://www.interfaithstatement2016.org/
Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders 2016
On 18 April 2016 religious and spiritual leaders delivered a statement to the United Nations on the occasion of the UN Secretary General’s high level signature ceremony for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Superior General, Fr Kevin O’Neill is among the high level signatories in the name of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban.
- For details see the website: http://www.interfaithstatement2016.org/statement.
- For pdf see: Interfaith Climate Change Statement 2016
Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015
The Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Salt Lake City, USA from 15th – 19th October 2015 issued an interfaith call for action on climate change. The declaration is available here: Embracing Our Common Future: An Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change.
Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic Statements on Climate Change
Published in relation to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 21st session Conference of the Parties (COP 21) held in Paris in 2015.
This is a joint not-for-profit project, run under the auspices of The Conservation Foundation in the UK and GreenFaith in the USA. It was launched at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on the 7th of May 2014, when UN Climate Leader, Christiana Figueres, urged all people of faith to express their concern about the climate talks to our world leaders in every way possible, including through ourvoices.net. Among other initiatives, there is an online petition for signatories to be presented at the Paris UN Climate conference in November 2015. http://ourvoices.net/
Global Catholic Climate Movement
This international coalition was launched in January 2015; it is made up of Catholics – lay, religious, clergy, theologians, scientists, activists – from many nations, continents and walks of life. They are united by their Catholic faith and work in various roles and organisations on climate change issues. http://catholicclimatemovement.global/join-the-movement/
Interreligious Council of Peru, Religions for Peace
The Council, whose contact person is Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) coordinator in Peru, Laura Vargas, is active in environmental issues and was particularly active during the UN COP 20 meeting held in Lima in December 2014. They organised monthly fasts for the success of the meeting and a vigil rally of the eve of the meeting with massive participation of religious groups and civil society. They hosted an inter-religious event ‘voices for climate’ as well as an inter-faith prayer service. The activity will continue in the build up to Paris in December 2015. http://www.religionsforpeaceinternational.org/content/inter-religious-council-peru-religions-peace
The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
This is a multi-faith network taking action on climate change. Resources on the website include A Common Belief, and a number of statements by various faith leaders on climate change. Climate Action Kits for Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews are available as well as campaigns in which to get involved. http://www.arrcc.org.au/
Interfaith Summit on Climate Change
The World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace organized an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change in New York in September 2014. Faith communities are building a collective movement around the world, simultaneously raising our voices, echoing our concerns, and sharing the lived experiences of peoples on “the move” and peoples “on the ground,” facing the already very present threat of climate change. http://interfaithclimate.org/
Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change
This declaration was signed by 30 faith leaders, from 21 countries on six continents, representing nine religions in September 2014. It calls for concrete actions to curb carbon emissions. http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/interfaith-declaration-on-climate-change
This statement is addressed to governments represented at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 in Paris in December 2015: http://actalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/COP21_Statement_englisch2.pdf
Faith leaders in Britain launched the Lambeth Declaration in June 2015, calling on faith communities to recognize the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy. The declaration warns of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming. https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2015/06/archbishop-of-canterbury-join-faith-leaders-in-call-for-urgent-action-to-tackle-climate-change.aspx
What Some World Religions Teach About Climate Change
A Buddhist Declaration on climate change, The Time to Act is Now, was composed as a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr David Tetsuun Loy and senior Theravadin teacher Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr John Stanley. It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Respose to the Climate Emergency (2009). The Declaration is available here: http://www.ecobuddhism.org/bcp/all_content/buddhist_declaration/
On the 29th of October 2015, the Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective (GBCCC) issued a Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders 2015. See: http://gbccc.org/. It is available for download as a PDF file here: Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders
Christianity – Catholic Church
In 2013 Columban priest, Charles Rue, produced a document on behalf of the Australian Catholic Church on climate change, “Let the Son Shine”. Download from this page: www.columban.org.au/archives/features/2013/let-the-son-shine-2013-edition
The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE) has produced a Series on Climate and Major Religions. Here is the link to their article “The Catholic Church and Climate Change”: http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/02/the-catholic-church-and-climate-change/
In 2009 the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference produced a pastoral reflection on climate change, “The Cry of the Earth”. The pdf can be downloaded at: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/wp-content/uploads/images/stories/features/Cry_of_the_Earth/env_pastoral_09_long_final.pdf
The Hindu Declaration on climate change was presented for consideration to the Convocation of Hindu Spiritual Leaders at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia on 8 December 2009. The pdf can be downloaded at: http://www.hinduismtoday.com/pdf_downloads/hindu-climate-change-declaration.pdf
An updated Hindu Declaration on Climate Change was released on 23 November 2015. It is a global call to the 900 million Hindus living worldwide to lead lives in harmony and balance with the natural world. It also asks world leaders to find long and lasting solutions to climate change at the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris (COP21).
Please click here for Press Release
The Declaration is available on the following link: http://www.hinduclimatedeclaration2015.org/english
The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE) Series on Climate and Major Religions has an article by John Whitby “Green Muslims” tracing the evolving climate change consciousness within Islam. Download from this page: http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/04/green-muslims-eco-islam-and-evolving-climate-change-consciousness/
The Islamic Foundation For Ecology And Environmental Sciences (IFFEES) is a UK based charity dedicated to the maintenance of the Earth as a healthy habitat for all living beings. Its motto is: “Reconnecting people with the natural world through Islamic teachings”: http://www.ifees.org.uk/
Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change: On 18/08/2015 Muslim leaders and scholars from 20 countries made a joint declaration at a conference in Istanbul, calling on Muslims and all nations worldwide to address climate change. The statement says: “Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it.” Supporters of the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change included the grand muftis (highest authorities in religious law) of Uganda and Lebanon and government representatives from Turkey and Morocco. The conference itself, the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, was co-sponsored by Islamic Relief Worldwide, the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, and GreenFaith. http://islamicclimatedeclaration.org/islamic-declaration-on-global-climate-change/
PDF of Declaration plus links to some commentaries available here: Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change
A commentary by Damian Howard SJ from Thinking Faith on the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change: An Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. PDF file available for download here: An Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.
The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE) Series on Climate and Major Religions has an article on Judaism and Climate Change by Julie Halpert, in which she notes that major sectors of the Jewish community are taking strong positions on combating climate change. Download from this page: http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/02/judaism-and-climate-change/
At the initiative of The Shalom Centre, as of 8 June 2015, 342 rabbis have signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, calling for vigorous action to prevent worsening climate disruption and to seek eco-social justice. The text of the Rabbinic Letter and its signers are available at this link: https://theshalomcenter.org/torah-pope-crisis-inspire-300-rabbis-call-vigorous-climate-action
To coincide with the 23 September 2014 Climate Change Summit in New York City the international environmental organisation EcoSikh issued the first ever statement on climate change from a Sikh perspective. For PDF file see: Sikh Statement on Climate Change
Columban Society Position Paper on Climate Change, September 2014
We Columbans feel that human-induced climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world today affecting every aspect of life on earth. In this statement we challenge all people of good will to realize that major changes in our behaviour must occur immediately if we want to arrest the horrendous consequences already well under way. We join people of other faith traditions who are already working on the issue of climate change inspired by the resources of their traditions. By working together to help bring about an ecological conversion among people, so that life on earth as we know it is not irreversibly damaged. Time is running out and the task is urgent. Click on link below.
Water is the symbol of life – without it there simply is no life! We tend to take our water supply for granted; yet almost one billion people today do not have access to clean drinking water. Our water resources are being depleted and degraded as a consequence of our agricultural and industrial use of water, deforestation and climate change, over-consumption, waste, and pollution. And while water plays such a central role in the daily life and worship of Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews alike, the fact that water is becoming so scarce on our planet means that we are not paying enough attention to what our faith traditions teach us about treasuring this precious gift of God. Let us look again at what they have to teach us.
Indigenous Religion/Muslim/Christian Cooperation around Water in Southern Philippines: Two Initiatives
1. Cagayan de Oro
Columban priest Paul Glynn writes about the Higaonon indigenous People of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines who remind their Muslim and Christian neighbours of the importance of showing gratitude to God for this precious gift of water. They believe that it is only when we show gratitude and respect for water that the balance of nature is maintained and we are protected from calamities. See “Being Grateful for the Precious Gift of Water“.
The Friends of the Zamboango Watersheds Movement (FZWM) produced “The Watershed Primer”, offering it as a contribution that may bring about behavioural change in the people of Zamboango watersheds in order to protect this precious gift. FZWM is inspired by the vision of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, which promotes dialogue with creation as one of its pillars. FZWM commits itself to protecting and sustaining the watersheds of Zamboango and educating people about the importance of water. The pdf of The Watershed Primer can be downloaded at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-1h_u-O7rWwbll4SG4yVzlHXzA/view
Statement on Water by a Coalition of Religions
The following statement was issued 14 June 2004 at a Faith and Ecology Network (FEN) forum on The Water of Life, Strathfield, Sydney, sponsored by the Columban Centre for Peace Ecology and Justice. Participants included lay people and leaders from Aboriginal, Anglican, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Orthodox and Uniting Church religious traditions. The statement can be downloaded at: http://faithecology.net.au/ecological-themes/water/statement-on-water-by-a-coalition-of-religions/
The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA)
This, the first global interfaith initiative to promote safe WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), was launched at UNICEF House, New York on 25 September, 2013. The alliance brings together faith-based organizations in common pursuit of a water-secure world – one in which all children may enjoy their right to safe drinking water and to adequate sanitation. http://washalliance.org/
Faiths for Safe Water
This is an advocacy project dedicated to supporting the WASH sector. Co-founder and Project director, Susan Barnett, was so moved by the global water crisis as the lynchpin to solving the world’s biggest problems, she thought it only made sense to create a nexus for faith-in-action around the symbol shared by all. The project helps faiths unite around this shared symbol and solution and claims this work is ‘interfaith at its life-giving best’. http://www.faithsforsafewater.org/
Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), World Council of Churches
The Ecumenical Water Network is an international network of churches and Christian organizations. The Secretariat is located at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. EWN facilitates an exchange of information and provides materials for churches, other Christian organizations, partners and individuals about the global water crisis and community-based solutions and initiatives. It also promotes and coordinates advocacy towards the recognition and implementation of the human right to water. http://water.oikoumene.org/en
Friendly Water for the World
The Mission of Friendly Water for the World is to expand access to low-cost clean water technologies and information about health and sanitation to people in need of them. It provides opportunities for Quakers and those of other faiths and traditions to partner with individuals and communities working to improve living conditions around the world, and to learn from each other. http://www.friendlywaterfortheworld.com/
What Some World Religions Teach about Water
“Significance of Water in Buddhism” is a post on Moonpointer: A Buddhist Blog of Everyday Dharma. See: http://moonpointer.com/new/2011/02/significance-of-water-in-buddhism/
“Water, Holy Water”, Earth Day Sunday (2014), is one of the resources available at Creation Justice Ministries: http://www.creationjustice.org/educational-resources.html. This gives a Christian spiritual background to the importance of water in the Bible and Christian tradition and liturgy. It goes on to urge us to use water wisely and sparingly so that all may have enough as clean water is essential to living a life with dignity. To download, enter your personal details here: http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50750/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7463
Water is a multifaceted symbol in Hinduism. It is regarded as one of the pancha-tatva or five primeval elements of the universe. In most dharmashastras (Hindu religious texts) the symbolism of water as an instrument of purification and expiation is pre-eminent. Water is an essential element in nearly all rites and ceremonies. Its importance is outlined in “Water & Hinduism”, available as a pdf here: http://www.bcrl.be/water/hinduism%20on%20water1.pdf
“Water and Hinduism” is a post on the blog “All you Need to Know about Hinduism” at: http://history-of-hinduism.blogspot.com/2010/06/water-and-hinduism.html
“Islam and Water: The Hajjar (r.a.) Story and Guide”, from the Alliance of Religion and Conservation (ARC) website, is a detailed account of the importance and sacredness of water in Islam, the significance of Zam Zam, and the call to conserve this vital gift of life. The pdf is available for download at: http://www.arcworld.org/downloads/Hajjar%20Story.pdf
“My Oh Mayim: Water in Jewish Thought” was produced by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to help Jewish educational institutions integrate into their curriculum activities around the value and sacredness of water in Jewish spirituality and the responsibility that follows to protect this precious gift of God. The pdf is available here: https://secure2.convio.net/jnf/wwmd/handbook.pdf
This is Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. With it he enters into dialogue with all people on the planet. He writes, “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (LS, 14)
Korean/ 한국말: 찬미받으소서 [N.B. Summary Only]
On 18 June 2015, the Ecumencial Patriarch Bartholomew, had published in Time magazine a reflection on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’. To read the article click on this link: http://time.com/3926076/pope-francis-encyclical-patriarch-bartholomew/