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Our pledge to solidarity with the Crucified Earth

Feb 16 2020, 12:20 PM

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In September 2019, The Passionist Congregation in England and Wales issued a statement in recognition of the climate and ecological emergency, as a pledge to work to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in their own operations by 2025 and to call on government to tell the truth about the emergency and to work towards a zero emissions target also by 2025.

We Passionists of St Joseph’s Province in England and Wales, recognise that we are in a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

The life of God’s creation on earth is threatened. The climate is changing rapidly due to human actions, and species are threatened with extinction at an ever-increasing rate. Both of these undermine the basis for human life and desecrate God’s creation. 

Martin Newell with Christian Climate Action

God created human beings in the Divine image, to love their Creator and to care for all Creation, both human and the whole natural world. We are called to love our neighbour as ourselves. Laudato Si reminds us that the Earth is our neighbour, our mother and our sister. Our globalised society has harnessed God-given human ingenuity for the universal common good, in ways that contribute to the good of many millions of our sisters and brothers. However, in the process, we are now damaging the very fruitfulness of creation that God intended, and on which we depend. In this kairos moment, this crisis-point at which we have arrived, emergency action is needed to protect God’s earth and God’s poor. We, especially in the richer nations of the world, need to change direction, to repent. If we do not, we know the poorest will once more suffer first and most. Christians must be open to, and speak, the truth that sets us free. So, we commit ourselves to integrate human, climate and ecological justice in every aspect of our life, work, worship and prayer.

We pledge to act on this Emergency in our own lives and ministry. We will also work with and support our members, friends and government, at local and national levels, in tackling this Emergency, and we call on others to do the same.

These are our intentions:

1. We will tell the truth

Governments and broadcasters must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change. We will communicate with those associated with us and those we minister and work with, and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.

2. We will take action

Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels. We pledge to work towards reducing our emissions to net zero by 2025. We will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where they do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels. We will actively work to inspire, enable, imagine and model ways in which our faith and our congregations can protect and renew our life-sustaining planet.

3. We are committed to Justice

The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Faith communities can imagine and unleash shifts in the ways people relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours. We will do what is possible to help all those associated with us and those we minister and work with to talk about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed. We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice, both within our nation and towards other nations, particularly for those who are poorer.

“We act to raise the alarm in a spirit of repentance for our complicity in sins against God’s earth and God’s poor. Parliament has declared a climate emergency but environmental issues were virtually absent from the Queen’s Speech. We need action, not words.”

Martin Newell

Martin Newell CP was arrested three times during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protests in London in October. In 2015, Martin helped found Christian Climate Action (CCA). CCA is a community of Christians acting in the face of imminent and catastrophic climate breakdown. Inspired by Jesus Christ they take non-violent action to make the change needed. During the last 18 months CCA effectively became the Christian section of XR. 

Following the lead of cosmos-theologian Thomas Berry CP, Passionists recognise our dependency on our wounded Mother Earth. In this way Martin’s participation in this response to the signs of the times, fulfils our vocation to ‘keep alive the memory of the passion’, the passion of the suffering Earth. 

The protests disrupted much of central London by blocking roads. Two of Martin’s arrests came outside London City Airport and New Scotland Yard. The third was at Shadwell DLR station, where Martin, along with CCA members Rev Sue Parfitt and Phil Kingston, climbed on top or glued themselves to the train. 

Martin Newell & Rev Sue Parfitt on train

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