02 August 2022, The Tablet

Catholic bishop calls for urgent action on climate crisis

Bishop Arnold described the summer’s high temperatures as a “wake up call”.

Catholic bishop calls for urgent action on climate crisis

Bishop John Arnold on a COP26 march in Glasgow last year.
Thom Flint/Cafod

A senior Catholic bishop has called for more urgent action on the climate crisis, in the wake of this summer’s record temperatures.

Bishop of Salford John Arnold, the episcopal link for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on the environment, speaking after the UK recorded temperatures above 40C for the first time, said: “I know that we’re jogging along, showing an interest in climate change – but jogging is not enough; we’ve got to start sprinting at this stage to make sure we’re caring for our common home.”

He described the recent heatwave as a “wake-up call” saying: “We’ve witnessed temperatures never before reached here in the UK and here in our own diocese, temperatures also saw record highs, as some parishes nudged 40 degrees and firefighters battled flames in nearby communities.”

But as the temperatures subside, Bishop Arnold warned that the threat has not gone away. “This is not going to just peak and then we’ll hear no more of it,” he said; “it’s going to get gradually worse.” He agreed with environmental campaigners that human activity is warming the globe, “and we’re not reacting quickly enough to avoid the damage or to even begin to repair the damage that we’ve done”.

Bishop Arnold, who attended the United Nation’s Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow last December added: “We’ve already been told that some of the damage is irreparable, so we’ve got to think and we’ve got to act.”

He thanked parishes and schools already working to live more sustainably and campaign for environmental justice. Bishop Arnold invited involvement in the second diocesan Walk for Creation on Sunday 2 October.

On 15 July, he joined more than 40 students from secondary schools across the Diocese of Salford at the diocesan Laudato Si’ Centre to share ideas and solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges faced. The youth environment summit celebrated the Guardians of Creation project, a nationwide initiative being piloted in the Diocese of Salford which aims to lead the Catholic Church in England and Wales into a future of sustainability. The day included a range of powerful and inspiring sessions, which saw students present their ideas for a more sustainable future, before taking part in tree planting and meditation sessions, and finally burying a time capsule of their hopes and ideas, before closing with a prayer.

Throughout the day, students expressed a desire to see changes to the way we recycle, travel, generate energy, and care for creation. “It’s really important to put our faith into action,” said one student from Our Lady's RC High School in Manchester. “At Our Lady's our mission statement is to know, love, and serve God, and we will be serving God by protecting the environment and those who inhabit it.” Another promised to “apply pressure to those in power because they make a lot of the decisions”.








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