The ECI Climate Justice Candle was hosted by Clogher Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation group and was brought to Enniskillen by Anne Marie Russell. It was installed in Church of Ireland, Enniskillen on 1 December and then in St Michael’s Church across the street on the 8 December. After a week there it was taken to the Catholic Parish Church of Pobal parish in Tempo, Co Fermanagh.
Fr Joe McVeigh Assistant Priest, Enniskillen, spoke in St Michael’s Saturday 8 December 2018:
Today our Church is hosting the ECI Climate Justice Candle sent to us by Eco-Congregation Ireland which is an ecumenical group trying to raise awareness about Climate Justice. This candle has been travelling around Ireland and spending a week in many churches – Catholic and Protestant – over the past number of years. Climate change is in the news every day and we need to be reminded that each of us has to do our bit for climate justice – if it is only with regard to the use of plastic. We have all seen pictures of the damage plastic is doing to sea life. We have a responsibility to care for the creation and the earth God has given us and to make sure it is safe for future generations. It may be the greatest responsibility we have today as human beings … Unfortunately since the industrial revolution and the introduction of modern transport using fossil fuels – people in rich countries have been living as if there were no generations coming after us. Governments have done little to curb the use of fossil fuels which do so much harm.
Recently, well known broadcaster David Attenborough speaking at the World Conference on Climate change warned of the danger we are in of destroying Planet Earth through the use of fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide gases. David Attenborough is well qualified to speak about this subject. You will have seen his Blue Planet documentaries on TV. David has warned the nations of the earth that the situation regarding the earth is critical.
The Paris Agreement on Climate change in 2015 was a step in the right direction. 147 world leaders signed up to this Agreement which means limiting the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees centigrade. It is up to each nation to set national limits. The Paris Agreement came about as a result of campaigns by ‘ordinary people’ putting pressure on the governments of the world to act. There is urgency about this situation. Every day of inaction is a day closer to disaster for our planet. There is a huge responsibility on each of us and on all of us to act together. There is a huge responsibility on the world leaders to act now.
Unfortunately, the leader in the USA has pulled his government out of the Agreement. He says he does not believe in it. He thinks it is fiction! In this he is going against all the scientific evidence. He is rejecting the call of Pope Francis that everybody, especially political leaders, must take this matter seriously. The USA and China are the world’s leading polluters.
The horrendous fires in the USA and many places in recent years are a stark reminder of the consequences of climate change. This year has been the hottest year on record. The deadly fires as well as the rain and wind storms have cost many lives this year. Scientists tell us that carbon emissions result in climate change and strange weather patterns.
There are decisions that each of us can make to reduce the carbon footprints and make this planet safe for future generations. Mary Robinson suggests we cut down on the use of meat. The increase in the use of fossil fuels is a big threat to the environment. It is a disgrace that motor vehicles are not tested for exhaust fumes in the north. The amount of plastic in everyday use is unacceptable. The poisonous fluids used for embalming are bound to be harming our water. There are so many actions that we could take and must take to show our concern for the future of our Earth. There is no Planet B.
Pope Francis reminds all that the saving of planet earth ought to be one of our main goals in life. If those who belong to the Christian community are going to help save our planet from destruction we must unite with all other religions and all people of good will on this planet. We must encourage young people to take up this issue and make their voices heard. This has to be a worldwide co-operative effort – like nothing ever before. It must involve people of all ages and all nations. It is even more critical than Brexit.
This calls for conversion – a change of heart – as Pope Francis has intimated in his letter to the world, ‘Laudato Si – On Care for our Common Home’. It calls for a change of heart from each one of us and from the leaders in our churches who must overcome their reluctance to change. He says we need to covert from our ‘throwaway culture and our reliance on fossil fuels. Pressure must be put on political leaders to commit to saving the planet by taking actions to reduce carbon gases. There are 40% more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere than 100 years ago. Every year temperatures are breaking records around the world. It is estimated that 225.000 species of plants and animals could be lost by the end of this century.
Pope Francis calls on each of us to take seriously the threat to our common home, to reduce the consumption and waste, to live more simply, to reduce our carbon footprint, to act locally and think globally about the consequences of our actions, to recycle and repair. It calls for farmers to realise the damage being done to the ozone layer by intensive cattle farming and beef production. The farming community and government must look at alternatives. We must recognise the importance of biodiversity and what we can to promote it – planting trees, hedgerows, flowers, growing some of our own food, buying local, organic produce (no harmful toxins) and composting organic waste to nurture the soil as it is being seriously depleted by us. (LS 32ff).
As former US President Barak Obama said: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.”
Dean Kenny Hall St Macartin’s and Fr Joe McVeigh St Michael’s
Sr Nellie McLaughlin, Anne Marie Russell and Fr Joe McVeigh
Article in The Impartial Reporter newspaper