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Climate change worrying Pacific leaders of religious congregations

The global warming caused by "human irresponsibility" is bringing suffering to the people of the Pacific, and threatens "a great flood of environmental refugees", according to leaders of Religious Institutes of the Pacific, who met last week in Suva.

The leaders, from both Catholic and Anglican Religious Institutes, took their cue from the November 1998 Oceania Synod of Bishops in Rome, which recognised that for many island and atoll dwellers, "climate change is more than a question of economics".

According to a statement released after the conference, the group recognised that "for the first time in the world's history we have a legally binding international agreement (the Kyoto Protocol) on environmental protection to reduce greenhouse gases," but "to become operational it must be ratified by 55 States (there are 46 so far)." They noted that "few of the major industrial states responsible for 55% of GHG emissions have so far ratified the treaty".

The 70 leaders were guided by local Pacific Church leaders including the Bishop of Tonga, Most Rev. Soane Foliaki, Sr Keiti Ann SOLN, and Irish Columban missionary Fr Frank Hoare SSC.

They identified other significant issues including the damaging effects of globalisation as they affect the Island region, the lack of full participation by women in the Church, and the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor in traditional societies whose sense of recipcrocity and communal solidarity is breaking down.

To our Brothers And Sisters in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
of Oceania, Pacific Islands (Conference Statement)

Pacific Islands Religious
Nuns engaged in the defense of the environment (Vidimus Dominum)
Signis Pacific

Conference of Major Superiors of The Pacific Islands

12 Aug 2002