Church cannot remain indifferent to sinking Pacific Islands

Cardinal Peter Turkson says the Church cannot remain indifferent to the the plight of sinking pacific islands.

He says he is sometimes approached by people telling him that he entered the seminary to save souls, not to “meddle” with political or scientific issues.

“But I have bishops in the Pacific Islands telling me the land where they used to farm is now underwater. Is this not of interest to the Church?”

Turkson said that even though the Church can’t confirm or deny scientific findings, it cannot remain indifferent seeing how “these developments [of climate change] are affecting human life.”

His comments came during a Rome summit on climate change co-sponsored by the Vatican and the United Nations.

The recent cyclone in Vanuatu has put the spotlight on the connection between natural disasters and climate change.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction revealed earlier this month that 87 per cent of all natural disasters over the past 10 years have been climate-related.

Christian Aid’s Climate Change Advisor Dr Alison Doig said that, “In terms of the climate change risk I take advice from scientists and what they’re saying is that there are some of the highest winds that have ever been recorded, if not the highest winds that have ever been recorded of this type.”

“They are exceptional and they are exactly in line with the climate modelling that they have done… so we are going to see a lot more of these events (like Vanuatu) if we do not deal with climate change quickly.”

She also spoke about how the Church can play its part in tackling the issue of global warming.

The Summit in Rome was headlined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Turkson.

Turkson, who comes from Ghana, is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He was responding to the delegation from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute.

They told reporters that Pope Francis should not be “lending his moral authority to the politicised,” and what they consider “unscientific,” agenda of the United Nations.

The Heartland Institute advocates free-market policies.

Christopher Monckton, a British political adviser who was part of the delegation, told reporters that “it is not the business of the church to stray from faith and morals” and wander into “the playground” of policy.

However, throughout the conference, scientists from different fields urged religious leaders to create awareness about the moral and humanitarian dimensions of environmental protection.

Leaders from Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and various Christian denominations argued that science must acknowledge the role of religion in shaping society.

Vatican officials announced Tuesday that Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical letter on the environment is now finalised and is being translated into various languages, with an expected release date sometime in June.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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