Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch in unprecedented joint call on climate change

(Photo: Unsplash/Vlad Hilitanu)

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion have for the first time issued a joint call to the world to make "meaningful sacrifices" for the sake of the planet.

In an unprecedented message, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew together call on people to pray for world leaders meeting at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, as well as for individuals to take responsibility for the crisis and those with the power to implement just and sustainable economies.

"We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us," the Church leaders say.

They point to the extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months as evidence that climate change "is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival".

The message points to the lessons learned from the pandemic, which has seen nations work together to beat Covid-19, and urges people to have a "broader outlook" that thinks beyond "short term and seemingly inexpensive options".

They express regret that this has not been the case so far, with the world's natural assets "depleted for short-term advantage" at the expense of future generations.

The message goes on to say that a further injustice of these "abuses" is that the impact is being experienced by the poorest people on the planet.

The three Church leaders continue by calling for a fundamental shift in behaviour that thinks not only of immediate gains but also "future benefits".

"Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction," they write.

They continue, "Tomorrow could be worse. Today's children and teenagers will face catastrophic consequences unless we take responsibility now, as 'fellow workers with God' (Gn 2.4-7), to sustain our world."

The letter concludes, "This is a critical moment. Our children's future and the future of our common home depend on it."