The Bishop of Salford has urged each individual in his diocese to take personal action over climate change “before matters become irreversible”.
In a pastoral letter to be read in parishes over 2 March weekend, Bishop John Arnold, says climate change is “not a problem we can just leave to governments” and instead urges parishioners to make changes in their personal lives.
“Pope Francis tells us that we are all required, every one of us, to make changes to our lives and begin to repair the damage before matters become irreversible. I am sure that a growing number of people are aware of these problems but all too many of us are not engaging in those practical actions which are required in order to make the essential difference,” he writes.
Bishop John writes that although the UK has been fortunate in “experiencing only relatively minor evidence of Climate Change” – he cites unprecedented floods and the so-called Beast from the East – elsewhere in the world the effects are much more severe. It is most often the poorest countries of our world and people who have done least to damage the environment, who are the worst effected, he writes.
The bishop suggests making a difference through small actions such as choosing local produce; using less central heating (and wearing an extra jumper); turning off lights; drying washing naturally and reducing waste and recycling.
“These may seem almost trivial but they are significant ways where we can make an impact for the good. We show the goodness of our faith by our actions.”
The challenges from the Bishop take inspiration from Pope Francis landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, which calls on “every person living on this planet” to care for our shared earth, Bishop Arnold points out.
Bishop John continues: “We know that we have caused the extinction of thousands of species. We are changing the seasons by our destruction of the rain forests and we have plundered our natural resources for profit. We have caused the melting of the icecaps, the severe droughts, the freak storms, the variations of the seasons upon which agriculture and food production depend. We have caused people in coastal regions to lose their livelihoods through rising sea levels. But, with our commitment and our common participation, we can slow the destruction of the environment and begin to correct our mistakes. There is still time but unless we achieve significant progress in the next 12 years, our scientists are certain that our future generations will suffer life- changing consequences with no means of turning the clock back.”
Therefore I am asking all schools, parishes and individuals to take action and heal the damage, mend our planet and “care for our common home” for future generations.”
As well as the letter being read in parishes, Bishop John also wrote the 208 schools of the diocese asking them to make a similar pledge of action.