European Bishops Address Global Warming

Call During Plenary Meeting for Moderate Lifestyle

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, NOV. 13, 2008 ( European bishops say Christians should lead the way in using the climate change issue as an opportunity to analyze societal practices and return to the true values in life.

The stance of Christians faced to global warming and other climate changes is one of the themes being addressed by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community during their autumn plenary assembly, which ends Friday.

The prelates were presented with the report «A Christian View on Climate Change,» prepared by their ad hoc working group that is chaired by former E.U. Commissioner Franz Fischler

This report underlined the fact that climate changes are a «great challenge for mankind,» to which we must respond with an ethical strategy, in particular through intergenerational justice and solidarity with countries of the South.

During the initial presentation of this report last month, the panel stated: «It must be recognized that the ecological problem is first of all a problem of public ethos, hard to solve without challenging certain ways of organizing society, without questioning the ways we live together and the value system of civil society.

«Inaction is unpardonable because the actions required do not demand unacceptable sacrifices by the industrialized world. On the contrary, they primarily require structural changes that are affordable, and changes in social practices and habits; and these can be seen as the opportunity to return to the true values in life.»

A symptom

According to the report, this ethical reflection must be based in Christian theology, and especially in values and principles of social doctrine of the Church: global justice, preference for the weakest, subsidiarity and responsibility for the common good.

Above all, the authors stressed, climate change «is primarily a problem of intra- and inter-generational justice» faced by those countries in paths of development and the future generations, who are the ones who will have to deal with the problem.

Climate change «is only a symptom of an unsustainable lifestyle, of means of productions and models of consumption that cannot be sustained in the future,» they said. And they contended that in this sense, Europe has a special responsibility to work against global warming, given its technological and financial capabilities, as well as its experience in cooperative action.

Role of Christians

The report proposed: «Christians have a great potential for introducing the liberating power of faith […] since it is not a question merely of finding technological solutions, but rather of attaining a fundamental understanding of what gives human life meaning and what values should orient our lives.»

«In recent decades Christian theology has prepared the ground for a renewed vision of God’s creation and a sharpened perception of the place and role of humankind» as «stewards of creation,» the authors emphasized. For this reason, the relationship of mankind to the environment «may reasonably be considered as also a moral problem.»

The proposed Christian ethic over creation, the report added, should be based in «respect for human dignity,» the «aspiration for global justice,» «the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, sustainability and responsibility for the common good.»

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