ARCHBISHOP Mark Coleridge has encouraged Catholics not to abandon the debate on climate change to the politicians, economists, scientists and ideologues.
He offered the encouragement to a group of Catholics before he prayed and blessed them as they prepared to join about 10,000 people on the People’s Climate March in Brisbane last weekend.
They were uniting with hundreds of thousands of people in at least 150 countries demanding action on climate change on the eve of the United Nations conference in Paris where world leaders were to seek agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
Catholics gathered at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane to pray before the march.
Archbishop Coleridge told them there were “all kinds of people concerned about the health of the planet – the planet that is our ‘common home’, as Pope Francis has said, but not everyone’s concerned in the same way”.
“There are politicians who are concerned for political purposes, economists concerned for economic reasons, and ideologues for ideological reasons, and so on it goes,” he said.
“But we gather here today and will walk on this little journey as Christians.
“And one of the things that Pope Francis I think has done decisively is introduce a distinctively Christian voice into this crucial debate, because unless we speak from the depths of the biblical tradition, we’re kind of abandoning the field to the politicians and the economists and the scientists and, God help us, the ideologues.”
Archbishop Coleridge said people had questioned the Pope’s right to speak about matters to do with science, economics or politics.
“Well of course he doesn’t speak about those matters as a scientist or a politician or an economist,” he said.
“He speaks as a Christian believer first and foremost, as a Christian teacher then.
“So that’s what you’re doing. You are all Christians and you’re here for that reason.
“This is not a political rally or a political march of any kind, and that’s what our banners are all about.”
Archbishop Coleridge drew a parallel between the restoration work being done on the roof of St Stephen’s Chapel and climate change.
“That’s a bit what we’re talking about with the planet,” he said.
“If we didn’t replace the roof then I’m afraid the old chapel, the first cathedral, was cactus.
“So think of climate change as simply that we’re replacing the roof on planet Earth, because, if we don’t do something, there is a real risk that the planet will be cactus and, with that, human beings.
“And those who cop it first, as you well know, are the poorest, and some of them very close to our home here in Australia.”
Kimri, Joachim and Jes-Wah Thetadig, young parishioners from St Flannan’s, Zillmere, had personal reasons for joining the march – they were originally from Samoa and they have friends and relatives there who are particularly concerned about the threats of climate change.
Catholic marchers came from as far as Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.
By Peter Bugden