Religious, Civil Leaders Call for “Ecological Conversion”

Cardinal Urges Ascetic Living to Preserve Resources

BRUSSELS, Belgium, MAY 8, 2008 ( Church and political leaders have agreed that there is need for an “ecological conversion.”

The annual meeting of European Union institution leaders with representatives of the monotheistic religions of Europe was held Monday. The 21 participants discussed the need to care for the planet.

The president in exercise of the European Union Council, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, used Pope John Paul II’s call for an “ecological conversion” to summarize the meeting.

Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, noting that the Bible speaks of “creation” rather than of “nature,” contended that it is difficult to feel responsible for “nature,” which seems to denote endless resources.

Meanwhile, the concept of “creation,” he said, evokes the responsibility of mankind. The cardinal affirmed, “In the present world, we are called to an ascetic and unpretentious way of living in order to preserve creation’s resources and share them with the poorest populations.”

Anders Harald Wejryd, primate of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, added that it was a duty of religions to engage in combating climate change, since this issue raises questions of “morals, justice and equity.” Since churches propose a perspective of hope, religions can help to take the challenge of climate change, which is often obscured by apparently insurmountable difficulties, he added.

The president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Bishop Adrianus Van Luyn, called for a structure within the European Union to aid in these efforts.

“This would go a long way,” he said, “toward sending a clear signal of our hopes for a Europe that will demonstrate solidarity beyond geographical and temporal borders.”

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