Pope Francis hails multi-faith climate change march
Whoops of joy greeted Pope Francis’ welcome this morning to thousands of participants in the multi-faith climate change march to the St Peter’s Square. The marchers all carried green leaves and as Pope Francis came out St Peter’s Square was turned into a sea of green.
After his traditional Sunday blessing the Pope said “I especially greet the participants in the march “One earth, One family”. I encourage the collaboration between people and associations of different religions for the promotion of an integral ecology.”
“I thank FOCSIV, Our Voices and the other organisations and wish success to the young people from various countries who are currently meeting about the care of our common home.”
FOCSIV, an Italian Catholic development organisation and Our Voices, an interfaith global climate movement were supported by nearly 100 Italian and international civil society movements. The march was made up of Christian and other faith leaders, monks and nuns, environmentalists and ordinary citizens from around the world.
They walked from the central piazza Farnese in Rome carrying banners citing sentences from the Pope’s recently issued Encyclical on the environment and chanting its title Laudato Si’. Other chants were “many faiths one planet”, “climate action now”.
Other banners depicted fossil fuels as ‘from hell’ and with solar and wind power ‘from the heavens’. Thirty white birds flew above the marchers, huge kites flown by people below – one of the symbols of St Francis. There were slogans painted on enormous sheets such as ‘the earth and the poor are crying out for divestment’, ‘stop climate change which causes hunger’, ‘let us give hope to the future’.
Two groups of marchers, one depicting a large boat and another much smaller one with African migrants based in Italy carried signs saying “ same planet, different boats” and “migrant lives matter”. Dozens of marchers wore World Wildlife Fund T-shirts depicting a panda with the slogan “ Save the Humans”.
Before the march’s departure from the Piazza several religious leaders said prayers, a rabbi blew a shofar, a Muslim intoned verses of the Koran, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhist chanted, a Hari Krishna group played.
Anglican Archbishop Sir David Moxon, representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See said that his Communion’s 85 million members “are with you in spirit” and invoked “the God of all the world, of earth and sea and sky and all that lives and breathes to come down upon us with your grace, hope and justice, that your lost garden may be restored”.
The Assistant Bishop of Rome, Mgr Matteo Zuppi urged all to “continue their work in the common task of the defence of our common home.” He added that the encyclical could help create “ a chance for Paris” (the UN climate change conference in December tasked with adoption a new legal agreement to effective address the challenge). “The Pope wants real choices to be made, we must all make the effort, so Paris really changes things”.
Our Voices Co-ordinator, Rev. Fletcher Harper of the US Episcopal (Anglican) church, executive director of GreenFaith, a US-based religious-environmental organisation, said he was deeply grateful for the Pope’s greeting after the Angelus. “We thank him for his leadership on climate change and urge greater climate action by all world governments”.
“A call from the network through social media for companion actions worldwide at midday on Sunday local time has already generated reports of over 100 events,” Rev. Fletcher said. Over the next three days, we will be training 100 emerging faith leaders (under 40) at the Sant’Egidio centre in Rome in advocacy and outreach on religion and environment issues – with the Encyclical as a guiding theme throughout.”
Former senior Philippine climate change negotiator, Yeb Sano, leader of Our Voices People’s Pilgrimage launched in Vanuatu three weeks ago said the march was a “perfect expression of global solidarity, uniting peoples of all creeds. This is the issue of our generation. The Pope´s greeting is a beautiful moment in this celebration”Tags: climate change, encyclical, environment, Laudato Si', our voices, Pope Francis, the vatican