The Story: LAUDATE DEUM and Multilateralism from Below
Image credit Agnes Richard 2023
“The demands that rise up from below throughout the world, where activists from very different countries help and support one another, can end up pressuring the sources of power. It is to be hoped that this will happen with respect to the climate crisis.” Laudate Deum (LD) 38
The upcoming UN conference on Climate Change in the United Arab Emirates, COP28, has many people thinking about what influence we could possibly have on international climate outcomes, when it appears powerful fossil fuel interests have the upper hand. Surprisingly, there is a strong role for spiritually guided people and for those who occupy marginalized segments of society.
In our Laudate Deum: A Canadian Discussion webinar, (recording available here), on October 25th, three speakers reflected on messages in Pope France’s Apostolic Exhortation, Laudate Deum. What follows is a summary of the main points offered by Dr. Chris Hrynkow, Agnes Richard and Genevieve Gallant and an additional consideration of our Canadian context.
Dr. Chris Hrynkow expressed his conviction that “our location in the natural world matters. There is something about being on the prairies, and the right to be cold, that makes us who we are. To witness the beauty of prairie grass in a way that is important but different from experiences in the Rocky Mountains, near Niagara Falls, of the waves at Tofino or a sunrise on the east coast of Mi’kma’ki. All these styles of experience are of great importance, and our human experience would be incomprehensible and meaningless without nature. We need … to reconnect our sociological imagination with the natural world for us to be authentically human.”
“[Pope Francis] names an important role for heartfelt religion, on the level of transfiguration, to animate the necessary moral movement that is not only personal, but also political, towards being in transformative relationships with other human beings, and with the rest of creation.” CH
Richard quoted the Laudato Si’ Movement Statement to Canada’s negotiators at COP 28 in light of Laudate Deum, Addresse du Canada à la COP 28 en réponse à l’exhortation apostolique Laudate Deum du Pope François. “Canada continues to have an outsized impact on the climate crisis particularly through regulations and policies around deforestation, mining, and fossil fuel extraction, both within and beyond Canada. Canadian companies continue to write more chapters in a history of colonialism through further fossil fuel and mineral exploration and extraction, harming climate, ecosystems, and communities. Instead, we must:
1. Increase our greenhouse gas emissions target, because “…the necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed” LD55.
2. Increase global support for climate adaptation, and
3. Commit new and extensive public funds to meet Canada’s just share of responsibilities for loss and damage in the Global South.”
The statement concluded with this note to Canadian negotiators; “True ecological debt must come to light between the Global North and Global South, connected to the environmental impact of commercial imbalances and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.”
To reinforce the LSM Statement, Richard reflected on a meeting between young women connected with the Laudato Si’ Movement from Canada, Ecuador, France, Namibia, Panama, and the Navaho Nation in America, with Canada’s chief negotiator to COP28, Canadian Ambassador on Climate Change, Catherine Stewart. “We heard over and over again that extraction companies, with headquarters in Canada, are committing grave human and ecological abuses. They operate without concern for the people and lands in which they extract oil, gas, gold, copper, lithium and many other minerals. Canada must think about what companies are doing around the world, and strengthen our policies that are currently too weak to prevent human rights abuses and ecocide.”
Richard then renewed the MLSM Canada calls to sign the Faiths Endorsement page of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, write to Canadian bishops, with the help of model letters, asking them to divest pensions and diocesan financial assets from fossil fuels, and to learn what we can about climate solutions led by Indigenous Peoples through Indigenous Climate Action network webinars and the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.
Genevieve Gallant observed, “[Pope Francis] talks about unchecked human intervention, about homicidal pragmatism, reminding us that we are behaving as if human beings have no limits. Francis quotes African Bishops when he says that climate change makes manifest a striking example of structural sin.”
Gallant went on to say “We need legislation and we need limits. Do we trust what we have created? Do I trust my bank to divest from fossil fuels? Do I trust my pension to be invested in fruitful, humane projects? Do I trust that the upcoming COP28 meetings in the United Arab Emirates will be fruitful?”
While paraphrasing Laudate Deum she said, “An integral ecology lens aims to change big systems so they work for everyone. And that’s why Pope Francis talks about globalization with spontaneous cultural interchanges, greater mutual knowledge and processes of the integration of peoples to provoke a multilateralism from below... Unless citizens control political power, national, regional and municipal, it will not be possible to control damage to the environment. So, strengthening democracy is now climate action. What are the campaigns, the organizations, the groups, the churches and faith communities that we can support that are putting life before profit? … We need to stand as citizens, taking action, because it is urgent and necessary that we do so.”
Multilateralism from Below
Excellent examples of the type of multilateralism from below that Pope Francis speaks of, is demonstrated by the global Laudato Si’ Movement, and our Canadian chapter MLSM Canada with our Eco-Investment tools, Development & Peace Canada with their Stand for the Land campaign, and the Indigenous Climate Action Network (ICA).
We are those activists where Pope Francis places his hope!
In a webinar series from ICA, The Colonial Urge to Commodify the Climate Crisis: Uplifting Real Solutions, members of Turtle Island Indigenous communities critique the UN climate conference process and offer solutions. Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, ICA’s Executive Director, stated
“Indigenous communities have long been calling attention to solutions driven by our ancestral wisdom and relationships with our traditional lands and waterways. Our solutions expose the fallacy of colonial logic that consistently seeks to reduce the climate crisis to an economic crisis which primarily benefits corporations and colonial governments.” ETD
She reminded participants, “Indigenous resistance to carbon, matched with Indigenous Peoples stewardship utilising traditional knowledge systems to build and strengthen conservation and biodiversity, … are critical to finding solutions to the climate crisis. We are doing it outside the assumptions that these systems have to be commodified in order to be viable solutions. … Solutions should be looked for as a life-relational challenge. Real solutions should be rooted in the interconnected relationships that we have with the natural world.”
In this, Pope Francis and Indigenous communities are echoing each other.
Our priorities should be to listen and learn so we can understand what we can do to eliminate the physical, cultural and moral injury suffered by Indigenous land defenders in Canada, and abroad. We should ensure our wealth is not invested in industries actively and aggressively destroying creation, and those working to project it, by divesting from fossil fuels and pressing for regulation of corporations and financial institutions. We should press for just Canadian domestic and foreign policies that hold corporations to account for human rights abuses and ecocide.
“[A]s people of faith grounded in the conviction that Creation is a sacred gift from God, we are called to also transform the values of our communities and societies. Ultimately, there are no lasting changes without cultural changes.” LD 70
Read on for many ways to pray and collaborate with others as we strive to rise to the challenge that is Laudate Deum.
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News / Actions / Resources
1. Laudate Deum: Eco-Spirituality in Action
Join Citizens for Public Justice in collaboration with For the Love of Creation and the Galilee Catholic Retreat Centre for a powerful webinar dedicated to Pope Francis’ Laudate Deum. Discover how this inspiring document serves as a call to action in the realms of environmental justice and creation care. Our speakers include leaders in Catholic social and environmental justice, as well as individuals from local congregations actively pursuing green initiatives. Connect with hundreds who have already registered!
Tuesday, December 5, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. The webinar recording will be shared with registrants. Une interpretation en français sera disponible. Register here.
2. Introduction to forming a Parish Creation Care Ministry webinar, is presented by Karen Van Loon on Wednesday, December 6, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Learn how to form a Creation Care Ministry that engages your parish in deepening ecological spirituality, awareness, practices and solidarity. For information and to register click here.
3. Indigenous Climate Action invite everyone to "follow along with our team at COP28. Indigenous Climate Action Canada has delegates attending COP28 . Follow their activities via their website https://www.indigenousclimateaction.com/cop28
4. Laudato Si’ Movement Petition to COP28 delegates and COP28 President, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. Please read, sign and share the petition Empowering Change: A Petition Inspire by Laudate Deum and Laudato Si’ for COP28 (Eng), également lire et signer un petition, sil vous plait Un changement qui donne du pouvoir : une petition inspire par Laudate Deum et Laudato Si’ pour la COP28 (Fr)
5. The Faith Pavilion at COP28, will begin streaming to its website, and at https://faithatcop28.com/, on November 30th. Visit the website regularly to stay up to date on conversations and actions inspired by the voices of the world’s religious regarding the global climate change negotiations.
6. Bank Switch, a new initiative available through the Laudato Si’ Movement, helps you understand how most Canadian financial institutions rate in a global comparison when it comes to funding fossil fuel projects and expansion. Through an affiliated link, bank.green you can find a list of Canadian financial institutions in four Canadian provinces with “green” accreditation.
7. Fossil Fuels non-proliferation treaty, statement from spiritual leaders is always inviting more signatures.
8. The Letter writing campaign to Canadian Bishops, promoted by MLSM Canada, requests divestment of their pension plans from fossil fuels. It is supported by these draft sample letters in English, et français, that you can re-write using the tips provided. Please notify Agnes Richard via email when you complete a letter to your bishop, at [email protected].
9. A new Laudate Deum Examen is a tool for prayer, reflection, and action for individuals and communities to deepen the call to care for creation and the most vulnerable. This examen follows the five steps of the Ignatian Examen, guided by key quotes from Pope Francis in his timely exhortation. Access a pdf of the Examen here.
10. Protagonists in the film THE LETTER invite your financial and spiritual support. Since making the film together, Arouna Kandé, Cacique Dadá, Ridhima Pandey, Greg Asner, Robin Martin, and Lorna Gold have continued to speak often and are fighting for change in their homelands and beyond. You can read about their causes and offer support here.