Katowice: Franciscans for the Climate
On December 3-15, 2018, the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Katowice, Poland. The event was attended by politicians, scientists and world leaders attempting to deal with the difficult, modern-day challenges caused by the current social and economic crises and ecological and climatic conditions.
Shortly before the Climate Summit (December1-4), workshops by the Ecological Movement of St. Francis of Assisi (REFA) took place in Katowice as well, at the School of Integral Ecologists. Eighteen participants prayed, worked together and grappled with the difficult challenges posed by the ecological and climatic crisis with the aim of creating their own Christian response in the spirit of the Encyclical Laudato si’. “Looking in the same direction is what unites us,” the participants declared. “We want to be ecologists among Catholics and Catholics among ecologists.”
The tools for this mission were crafted through conferences, discussions and meetings with experts. The workshops were conducted by Friar Stanisław JAROMI, OFM Conv., and Emilia ŚLIMKO of REFA. Friar Joseph BLAY, OFM Conv., the Delegate General for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (GPIC), was also present.
One important event was a Mass organized by REFA on December 2, for international reconciliation and the success of the climate summit negotiations. The Mass took place at the church used by the Fatebenefratelli lay society.
The next day, a Franciscan discussion took place on the topic “Climate Crisis and the Role of the Faith Community for Climate Justice.” It was organized by the OFM General Office for GPIC. Much attention was paid to the Christian response to the environmental crisis and the role of Christian communities in achieving climate justice. Eco-messages were delivered by Friar Jacek ORZECHOWSKI, OFM, from the USA; Friar Stanisław JAROMI, OFM Conv.; Junghee MIN, Secretary General of the ICE Network (Inter-religious Climate and Ecology), Budi TJAHJONO (Franciscans International) and Igor BASTOS (Global Catholic Climate Movement).
On December 8, many Catholic ecologists spent the day at the Franciscan Center of Upper Silesia in Katowice-Panewniki, Poland. Mass there was presided over by Friar Stanisław JAROMI, OFM Conv., and concelebrated by Friar Sergiusz BAŁDYGA, OFM, the guardian of the local friary where a charging station for electric cars was recently installed. The events that day combined lessons, discussions and prayer under the slogan: “Mission Laudato Si‘: Christians for the Climate.” Participants included representatives of GCCM, Franciscans International, REFA, the diocesan Caritas organization and local pastoral groups.
The Franciscan voice was clearly heard during the various scientific and ecumenical events.
Notable among these was the International Convention entitled “For the Care of a Common Home: The Christian on the Path of Ecology.” It was held on November 30, 2018, organized by the Faculty of Theology of the University of Silesia in Katowice. Next, there was a symposium entitled “Safeguarding Our Climate, Advancing Our Society.” It was held on December 10, 2018, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Polish Academy of Sciences and the French National Center for Scientific Research. Among those participating was the Most Reverend Wojciech POLAK, Primate of Poland. At the end, a joint memorandum was issued in which the scientists, intellectuals and clergy demanded an active and scientifically based response to limit global climate change.
Among the ecumenical activities was a discussion held on November 29, in the Silesian Library, in the context of ecumenical academia and interreligious dialogue, entitled, “Submit the Earth to Yourselves.” The Catholic perspective was presented by Friar JAROMI, OFM Conv. On December 4, Midday Prayer was recited in the Protestant Evangelical Cathedral of Katowice. Friar JAROMI presided, joined by the participants of the REFA workshop. The participants prayed for miners and ecologists. Next, there was an ecumenical pilgrimage for climatic justice which took place twice; once at the Vatican on October 4, on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, and again on December 7 (after 65 days) at Katowice. Among those participating was Friar Benedetto AYODI, OFM Cap., a Kenyan from the Capuchin JPIC office in Rome. There was also a climate march held on December 8, again in Katowice, which was carried out by pilgrims, activists, ecologists and residents from Silesia. The three Franciscan orders were represented by Friar Jacek ORZECHOWSKI, OFM; Friar Benedict AYOD, OFM Cap.; and Friar Stanisław JAROMI, OFM Conv. A “Letter of Christian Ecologists to the Participants in the Climate Summit” was written, and delivered by REFA, in which academics in ecology, ecological activists, the clergy and the laity together as Christians, addressed the participants at the Climate Summit, promising their support.
[text in english: https://www.swietostworzenia.pl/2-aktualne/805-list-ekologow-chrzescijan-do-uczestnikow-cop24 ].