Leaders Of Anglican Churches Call For “Collective Moral Voice” On Climate Change
Is it the Church’s place to comment on science? Isn’t that what went wrong with Galileo? While many members of faith communities, both in the clergy and lay membership, have impressive scientific credentials, it’s probably not the place of these bodies to proclaim scientific truth. Moral interpretations that stems from scientific findings is another matter all together, though, and while you (or I) may not always agree with a religion’s or denomination’s positions on specific matters of science or technology, it is their place to offer an opinion based on their tradition’s teachings.
So, I was encouraged when I saw that bishops in my own broad faith tradition, the Anglican communion, had released “a call to urgent action for climate justice” during Holy Week 2015. The bishops didn’t spend any of the 8 pages of their call debating climate science, but, rather, discussed their own wrestling with these issues as individuals, and as leaders of dioceses feeling the impact of global climate change. Labeling the phenomenon “the most urgent moral issue of our day,” these members of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network described how they had come together as a community in South Africa to talk, pray, and otherwise attempt to discern God’s call to them, and the broader communion, on this unprecedented challenge.
Discernment is a very human act, and no member of the clergy in his/her right mind would claim to speak on God’s behalf. The bishops did share some of the commitments they themselves made as a result of their gathering, and also issued challenges to other members of the church. Among these:
- The bishops themselves committed to a practice of fasting for climate justice of the first day of the month “in solidarity with the earth and in acknowledgement that our own common life as a Church has contributed to the current climate crisis.” This will continue as an act of penance for as long as it’s deemed necessary.
- They called for the creation of liturgical and educational materials for congregations within the communion.
- They called for reviews of ethical investment guidelines, as well as the role of environmental sustainability in the communion’s educational institutions. They’d like to see ordinands deal with these issues as part of their education, and for ordained clergy to include such concepts in their continuing education.
They also challenge individuals and congregations within the communion to join with them in their monthly fast, to implement energy and water-saving measures in their homes and places of worship, and to participate in the political process surrounding issues of climate justice.
This document is a relatively quick read, but also a solid example of the kinds of statements communities of faith can (and likely should) make on environmental issues. Believers hold to the notion that the Earth is God’s creation, and that it is holy for that reason. It may not be the Chuch’s place to chime in on the debates of climate science, but arguing for the protection of all of God’s creation is right up its alley.
If you decide to read the call, please share your thoughts on it with us…
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