The 15 year old Autumn Peltier from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario has spent her last eight years putting pressure on politicians to take climate change more seriously, while advocating for clean drinking water in Indigenous communities and serving as the chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. In September 2019 she told the UN: "I've said it once, and I'll say it again, we can't eat money, or drink oil." She has urged the United Nations General Assembly to "warrior up" and take a stand for our planet and confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his "broken promises" at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. She is pictured below with other youthful activists where they addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, 21 Jan 2020.
“ … it doesn't take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don't add up." So said Greta Thunberg 23 January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. She is seen below with Prince Charles who has long espoused environmental protection and sustainability. During his address, Prince Charles, 71, introduced a Sustainable Markets Initiative, which will congregate charity chairpersons, private and public sector leaders and investors to collaborate “in accelerating the transition to sustainable markets and rapid decarbonization.”
"You know, it's not very useful to talk about environmental protection to people who are already convinced, to environmentalists who act. Me, what I want to do is talk about environmental protection to the world of business, to the world of politics, but from the perspective of profitability, show everything that is economically and financially profitable and which even creates jobs and which improves growth in the field of environmental protection and the fight against climate change. And here in Davos, well this is the right place to do it."
i.e. together and first.
Laudato Si’ Animators are champions of change in communities all around the world. Animators have changed policies, cleaned up lands and waters, and organized prayer services.
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Laudato Si’ stated clearly in 2015 that “fossil fuel technology needs to be replaced progressively without delay (165).”
The Catholic movement for divestment is growing by the month, with nearly 200 institutions having made the commitment to divest. Around the world, Catholics recognize that fossil fuels must stay in the ground, and that we are called to forge the path to a fossil-free future. (GCCM, 22 Jan 2020)
What is the situation among Franciscans in Canada?
I know the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis and Ursulines of the Chatman Union in Canada have divested. But has the OFS; OFM; OFM (Cap) & OFM (Conv) and other Franciscans? Have we as individuals?
UBC Student Hunger Strike
Students end a hunger strike after UBC clarifies position on divestment from fossil fuels. A group of students ended a 100-hour hunger strike Friday after the University of British Columbia assured them it will fully divest its $1.7 billion endowment fund of fossil fuel investments. In a statement Friday, UBC president Santa Ono acknowledged the pressing urgency to address climate change, saying the continued operation of the fossil fuel industry is "discordant" with a future safe from climate change. The eight students, all members of climate advocacy group Extinction Rebellion UBC, began the strike on Monday. (CBC, 11 Jan 2020)
What about our Dioceses? Maybe WE need to go on a hunger strike? Of course we won’t! We’ll leave it up to the Youth! What about Franciscan Youth? Will their Franciscan leaders encourage Franciscan youth to take action? Should we write a letter to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops about divestment and asking them to raise their voice on this and plan ahead for the Season of Creation in time for the laity to actually get involved?
We did save the ozone layer which saved us from even worse climate change. One of the great environmental success stories of the last century was the 1987 Montreal Protocol. And according to new research from Australia, we now know it not only saved the ozone layer, but it also saved us from significant climate change.
Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are man-made chemicals that were widely used in refrigeration and air conditioners before they were banned by the protocol. They're also potent greenhouse gases, thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 100 years.
The protocol's ban on CFCs was in response to research showing that they were destroying the ozone in the upper atmosphere. That ozone filters out dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
"Without [the Montreal Protocol], we would have had at least a quarter more global warming than we have today," climate change researcher Matthew England, told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald.
The Darfur conflict was labelled “the first climate change war” by some observers, with the then-UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon saying in 2007: “Amid the diverse social and political causes, it began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.” Research has shown that climate impacts such as drought and increasing temperatures increase the risk of armed struggles, particularly in regions where populations are already divided.
The climate crisis is making marginal existences even more fragile. It is no future threat here, with the Sahara marching southwards, temperatures rising and precious annual rains becoming ever more erratic.
But a new approach is bearing fruit. The seasonal river that runs by El Fasher, the capital of Sudan’s North Darfur state, has been transformed by community-built weirs. These slow the flow of the rainy season downpours, spreading water and allowing it to seep into the land.
Before, just 150 farmers could make a living here: now, 4,000 work the land by the Sail Gedaim weir.
Millet and sorghum were the staples, but Ali Mohammed has been able to expand into cucumbers and okra, lemons and grapefruit, and is trying sunflowers for the first time, all of which are valuable cash crops. “You give me the seed, and I will test it,” he says.
Here are the six reasons from British university profs:
- Costa Rica offers us a viable climate future
- Financial investors are cooling on fossil fuels
- We are getting much better at forecasting disaster
- Local authorities across the world are declaring a 'climate emergency'
- Radical climate policy goes mainstream
- Young people are on the march!
Flash Forest video (1 min 50 secs)
March for LIFE: AN AMERICAN FRANCISCAN PERSPECTIVE
In what has become an annual tradition, the (American) Franciscan Action Network joined the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 24th.
From the National Catholic Reporter, 24 Jan 2020: “Not all participants in the rally agreed with the single-issue stance of Trump and Pence. A group of Franciscan friars and their supporters held signs aloft outside of the security barrier with messages reading "I am 100% Pro-Life." "Care for the Unborn." "Protect the Earth" and "Seek Justice for the Poor."
Franciscan Father Jud Weiksnar, pastor of Sts. Columba Brigid Parish in Buffalo, New York, said he attended the March for Life
to encourage people to embrace a wider call in support of life,
including care for the environment and peace.
"I'm very deeply convinced that my religious calling calls me to something like the March for Life," he told Catholic News Service in a phone call from a point just off the Mall. His group included about 20 people, among them priests, men in formation and laypeople. His friend, Franciscan Father Jacek Orzechowski of Maryland, said he joined the march and rally "to remind others about what it means to be authentically pro-life."
"It's not enough to say that a person is against abortion, but especially about other concerns at this time when we as humanity are standing on the verge of ecological catastrophe," he explained. "I'm not willing to fall into a false choice in caring for our common home or caring for the unborn." ”
And from Crux: “Father Jacek Orzechowski, who attended the March for Life with several of his fellow Franciscan Friars, said that he found Trump’s participation in March for Life hypocritical. “To choose life,” said Orzechowski, “means not only to care for the unborn but also to protect our common home and seek justice for the poor. As followers of Jesus, we cannot sacrifice the integrity of the Gospel for political expediency.”
And from the Religion News Service: “Not everyone in the crowd was wholly supportive of the president, however. A group of Franciscan friars dressed in brown robes was vocally critical of Trump’s policies unrelated to abortion, arguing that his administration’s approach to climate change, immigration and war is “anti-life.” The group handed out signs to marchers as they passed and brandished a banner that read "Choose Life - Not War."
“The president said today ‘every child is a precious and sacred gift of God.’ I emphatically agree. But I want a country that is 100% pro-life,” said Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, one of the Franciscans. “Aren't children in the path of hurricanes and wildfires and climate disruption sacred gifts of God? Pope Francis and Greta Thunberg are holding the moral position, the pro-life position, and the president has a deeply anti-life position on climate change. Aren’t children at the border sacred gifts from God? The president is acting against life in so many ways, acting against the moral teachings of the Catholic Church on climate change, immigration, health care and war. As a pro-life follower of Jesus, I find it morally offensive to have President Trump as the main speaker at the March for Life."
And as evangelical Mark Galli editor in chief of (the American) Christianity Today wrote previously: “Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”.
HOW CAN WE FORGET? REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST.
Some people are unaware or in denial and intolerance raises its ugly head.
And of course in Auschwitz Concentration Camp we had St Maximilian Kolbe OFM (Conv) whose father was an ethnic German and mother Polish. While his self-sacrifice at Auschwitz was considered saintly and heroic, he was not killed out of odium fidei (hatred of the faith), but as the result of his act of Christian charity toward another man. At the end of July 1941, one prisoner escaped from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander, to pick ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. When one
Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp Memorial in Germany: Inscription reads “HIER RUHEN 5000 TOTE APRIL 1945” (“HERE REST 5000 DEAD”)
The only one with names is for Anne Frank (author of a famous diary) and her sister .
Franz Jägerstätter, a husband and father of four, refused to bear arms for the Nazi regime or swear allegiance to Hitler but was willing to serve in the army medical corps. In spite of this he was executed in 1943. He was encouraged to learn that a Pallottine priest, Fr. Franz Reinisch, had been executed the previous year for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler. A 1993 Austrian postage stamp commemorates him.
We can be proud of our heroes, both known and unknown. We mentioned one last month, the subject of The Hidden Life film (released in 2019 at the Cannes Film Festival): Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, OFS who was one of the very few Austrian Catholics to disobey the Austrian bishops when they called on Catholics to vote for the annexation of Austria (Anschluß 1938) by Nazi Germany. (We know because the ballot was an open and not a secret one). The Bishops signed their declaration with “Heil Hitler.” The Vatican was not happy and ordered a retraction!
Most of those bishops supported Hitler despite Mit brennende sorge (With burning concern, On the Church and the German Reich an encyclical of Pope Pius XI, 10 March 1937 but bearing a date 14 March). Written in German, not the usual Latin, it was smuggled into Germany for fear of censorship and was read from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches on one of the Church's busiest Sundays, Palm Sunday (21 March that year). Austrian Bishop Gfoellner of Linz had the encyclical read from the pulpits of his diocese. And wrote: "What I wrote in my pastoral of January 21, 1933. It is impossible to be at once a good Catholic and a good National-Socialist,' is confirmed today." The release of Mit brennender Sorge precipitated an intensification of the Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany.Hitler was infuriated. Twelve printing presses were seized, and hundreds of people sent either to prison or the concentration camps.
Alfred Stanke, the Franciscan of Bourges, a city in central France. A friar, and German medical orderly, he helped and saved hundreds who were tortured during World War II in France. Born, to a Polish Catholic father, on 25 October 1904 in Ohra, near Danzig, then part of Germany (now Gdańsk, Poland).
He was arrested by the Nazis with other friars in Koblenz in 1936, and impressed into the German army after Germany invaded Poland. He was sent to France in 1940, and served at the Bourges jail. There he did everything to help the prisoners tortured by the Gestapo. He healed them the best he could, comforted them so they did not lose hope. He managed to prevent the internment of many resistance fighters & helped prisoners communicate with the outside world and get freed.
Arrested a few months later by the French Resistance Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur in the later stages of the war and later arrested by the Americans, he was freed thanks to the French people he helped. After the war, he worked for reconciliation between France and Germany. He is the subject of a book, a 1967 film (only in French) and a French stamp.
Pope Pius XII’s actions to help persecuted Jews
Pope Pius XII’s actions to help persecuted Jews speak far louder than his alleged “silence,” experts say.
“Never again!” has become an everlasting cry in response to the mass killing of Jews in Europe during the Second World War, and remembrance has become a perennial action to honor the victims of the Holocaust.
But whether the Catholic Church did enough to fight this injustice, and whether Pope Pius XII remained silent in the face of the Nazi atrocities, have also become perennial questions. ...Read more
More about the background on the Church and the Holocaust: You might like to read more and become aware of what was nearly published. Humani generis unitas (On the Unity of the Human Race) was a draft for an encyclical planned by Pope Pius XI before his death on February 10, 1939. The draft text condemned antisemitism, racism and the persecution of Jews. For much more background on this fascinating topic check here. Also see Summi_Pontificatus
Summi Pontificatus is an encyclical of Pope Pius XII published on 20 October 1939. The encyclical is subtitled "on the unity of human society". It was the first encyclical of Pius XII and was seen as setting "a tone" for his papacy. It critiques major errors at the time, such as ideologies of racism, cultural superiority and the totalitarian state. Some of it is apparently based on Humani generis unitas.
Peace & joy, Andrew Conradi, ofs