The ecumenical dimension of climate change
"In a very threatening and very disturbing way, the climate crisis brings us together as one humanity, as one fellowship of believers, as one church," said Olav Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary-elect of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
"We are called to show a sign of what it means to be one humanity, of what it means that God loves the whole world," Tveit said. As churches come together to offer this sign, addressing climate change "is uniting us in a very special way: as churches, as believers."
The message that God loves the world and every creature on earth "has been the heart-beat of the ecumenical movement facing climate change," said Tveit, recalling the long history of WCC concern with ecological matters.
In an ecumenical perspective, the concern for creation has always been linked to the concern for justice and peace. "It is not a matter of saying this is a planet for some of us," said Tveit, "this is a planet for all of us."
This point was also stressed by Jesse Mugambi, from the University of Nairobi and a member of the WCC working group on climate change. "The world is a world in which we are all relatives, but somewhere along the line we decided […] to treat each other as strangers", he said.
Mugambi explained that in Africa, climate change is already causing both severe droughts on the one hand, and flooding on the other. With the help of maps he showed that those parts of the continent rich in water and cultivable land are also the areas of greatest conflict. Such a conflict "has nothing to do with ethnicity, it has to do with resources."
For Mugambi, the role of Christian faith and religion in general – through its leaders, theologians and ethicists – is that of "bringing us back to the norms" that can contribute to address a challenge like climate change.
"We are not talking about 'helping' African countries", Mugambi said. "It is not a matter of 'help,' but of survival for all of us."Read Juan Michel's one world religion article in it's entirety.