Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Respect for the Earth - an interfaith election reminder

B.I.N.'s good friend and artist, Liz Widdop has sent the article below. It comes from here.

Asked by a reporter if it is proper for Faith Groups to speak out about Climate Change in an open letter at the time of a Federal election, representatives of major Australian religions replied, "Yes, it is our duty".

The open letter was launched and organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) in July this year. It reiterated the scientific warning of an unthinkable four degree Celsius rise in temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the present rate. Recent experiences of extreme weather are a mild foretaste of what this will mean. We are on this pathway if Australia continues to export cheap coal. The open letter concludes that this is a major election issue.

Sixteen signatories to the letter united Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Uniting churches. Interfaith signatories represented Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish religions. The open letter was signed by Archbishop Philip Wilson representing the Catholic Bishops through Catholic Earthcare; Sr Annette Cuncliffe RSC as leader of Catholic Religious Australia; and Prof. Neil Omerod from the Australian Catholic University.

'Respect Earth' public event

The Faith and Ecology Network (FEN), representing eleven religious traditions, held an interfaith Prayer event on 14th August in the Martin Place Amphitheatre in Sydney titled, 'Respect Creation'. The theme of the public prayer and meditation vigil focused on the impact of mining fossil fuels. 

FEN members believe that energy issues go beyond purely economic considerations to embrace moral and spiritual dimensions. The mining of fossil fuels can impact unjustly on the lives of workers, farmers and communities; impact on the ecological integrity of the land itself as a gift and revealing of God for many. 

Noel Debien from the ABC Radio Religion Department was the event's MC. He called attention to the powerful message of shared concern expressed by the twelve faith traditions who took part. He shared that it is not the usual message of division that appears in the media. The Vigil showed that difference is not always a barrier. 

The vigil opened with Aboriginal didgeridoo player, Glen Doyle. His playing punctuated the vigil and reinforced an atmosphere of meditation. A lament led by the Ashfield Catholic Choir was repeated after each prayer: 
The Earth is crying out in pain. Respect the life of the Earth.
Meditations and prayers were led by representatives from the Aboriginal, Anglican, Shia Muslim, Uniting Church, Sikh, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Sunni Muslim, Quaker and Hindu communities. Chant, poems, songs and spoken prayers were used. The Peace Angels embraced dance as a meditation.

Over one hundred people participated in the Vigil. Some passing by were also welcomed and joined the event. 

Columban Fr Charles Rue offered a Trinitarian Prayer, 
Life and Death – Pain and Courage – Light for Action, 
on the way God acts and the call for believers to take up their role

as responsible and conscious members of creation.

The Faith and Ecology Network (FEN) have been meeting regularly since 2002. The insights and language emerging from ecological science is the bond that unites religious traditions. Faith Groups join together to advocate for environmental justice and their common concern about the impact of the fossil fuel mining on communities and the land.

Fr Charles Rue SSC is the Coordinator of Columban Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in Australia.


Rev. Charles Rue MTh MEnvPlan(Mq) PhD
Coordinator of Columban Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Australia

Fr Rue was a farmer for four years and President of the local Young Farmers before joining the Columbans. Ordained in 1968 he was appointed to South Korea and later to Jamaica WI. He worked in parishes but also taught Liturgy in Seoul. During Mission Education work in Australia he completed a Masters in Environmental Planning. He is presently the coordinator of Columban Justice Peace and Integrity in Australia (JPICoz).

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