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CURRENT ISSUE:  December 14, 2009
VOL. 47, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Bishop Cordileone among Catholic signers of Manhattan Declaration
Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe
Replica of Pieta on loan to Cathedral
Oakland’s St. Elizabeth High adopts flexible tuition plan
Religious leaders weigh in on
climate change at U.N. conference

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Nearly three dozen representatives of Catholic aid and development organizations have gone to the U.N. conference on climate change to deliver a common message: action must be taken immediately to ease the impact of global climate change on poor and vulnerable people because they already are being adversely affected by drought, flooding and rising sea levels brought on in part by the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from more developed countries.

Before the world gathering opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Dec. 7, religious leaders offered their prayers and called for responsible actions on behalf of the earth.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at his noon blessing at the Vatican Dec. 6, said protection of the environment requires more sober lifestyles and a rediscovery of the “moral dimension” of development.

He also said he hoped the Copenhagen conference would identify policies that “respect creation and promote a cooperative development founded on the dignity of the human person and oriented toward the common good.”

“The protection of creation demands the adoption of lifestyles that are sober and responsible, especially toward the poor and future generations,” the pope said.

At an ecumenical prayer service in London, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the needs of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people must be at the center of the worldwide debate on climate change.

The archbishop urged people to consider their own lifestyles when thinking about climate change and called upon people to simplify their lives rather than be dominated by the demands of a consumer society.

Afterward Archbishop Nichols joined other religious leaders, including Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, in a march around central London to call attention to climate-change concerns.

Bishop Paul Bui Van Doc of My Tho, Vietnam, urged Catholics in his southern diocese to focus on preserving the natural world. In an Advent letter, he asked people to keep waterways clear of pollution and to conserve energy and water as they go about their daily lives.

Bishop Doc, head of the Vietnamese bishops’ doctrinal commission, warned Catholics against damaging the environment for personal gain, reported UCA News, the Asian church news agency. He cited deforestation, the release of toxic waste by local factories and the government-run hydroelectric plants built on rivers in central provinces as causes for concern.

Kathy McNeely, an official with the U.S.-based Maryknoll Office of Global Concern, told CNS that the broad network of faith-based nongovernmental organizations on hand in Copenhagen, including Caritas Internationalis and the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, are taking the opportunity to press the need for a legally binding climate agreement because the future of the world’s poorest nations is at stake.

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