Multi-faith prayer support for climate change

Religious leaders from around the Archdiocese will unite on Capitol Hill this coming week to pray for effective and timely measures to address the climate crisis.

The gathering, organised by the Caring for Creation movement, is planned as a multi-faith prayer session to show public support for COP28 outcomes as a mainstream faith issue of care for our common home.

COP28, the United Nations annual climate negotiations, is held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.

“The Pope has just published this exhortation on the climate crisis focusing on the particular aspects of the need for effective action globally on the climate crisis,” Caring for Creation movement member Roger FitzGerald said.

“Since then, he has announced he will be attending COP28. One of the reasons is that it is being held in Dubai and the organisers from United Arab Emirates are putting quite a lot of emphasis on the importance of faith communities getting in behind this with their moral authority and encouraging people to be motivated to do something effective and urgently.”

The prayers at Parliament House will be multi-faith, with Christian denominations from the ACT Churches Council including Anglican and Greek Orthodox Bishops joining with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other faith leaders from the Canberra Inter-faith Forum.

“We have a really encouraging response that the faith leaders will be contributing and coming to join us in prayer,” Mr FitzGerald said.

“It is very much a multi-faith initiative the Pope is taking – the encyclical is addressed to people of goodwill rather than his fellow bishops. So, we deemed it was appropriate to take a multi-faith approach, and we have been assisted and encouraged by the interfaith community in Canberra.”

A service to celebrate the ecumenical Season of Creation earlier this year in North Canberra.

The gathering, inspired by senior vicars including Vicar General Fr Richard Thompson, Caring for Creation Chaplain Fr Mick MacAndrew, retired Columban missionary Fr Charles Rue, and Parish administrator Fr Trenton van Reesch, has also attracted interest from schools.

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“The environmental and sustainability captains will be planning their actions for next year and we see this as a really opportune time to engage with our future generation, our young leaders,” Mr FitzGerald said.

“What we are trying to show is that this is a mainstream part of the faith in today’s world.”

Mr FitzGerald said ecological teachings were increasingly being seen as a vital, integrating part of the Christian faith.

“This is not some sort of sideshow or special interest issue,” he said.

“This is a mainstream faith issue because it is about social justice. It’s not just social action or civil disobedience – we are trying to make this the prayer and the movement of the spirit. It is about understanding God as the creator and our role as custodians.”

  • The public prayers will be held on the front lawns of Parliament House at 2.30-4pm on Sunday 26 November and from 8-9.30am on Monday 27 November.