Wednesday 14 October 2015 at 19:03The Spirit Moves
by Jonathon Porritt,
It’s now four months since I first mentioned the People’s Pilgrimage, and its charismatic inspiration Yeb Saño, the former Climate Ambassador for the Philippines (@YebSano on Twitter).
He’s now well on in his 1500 kilometre pilgrimage from Rome to Paris, joining with others along the way, of all faiths, and I’m hugely enjoying checking in on his progress. (Follow the #PeoplesPilgrimage hashtag on Twitter)
I just love this initiative — it makes sense to so many people for whom religion and faith play such a critical part in their lives.
Just a couple of weeks ago, for instance, I gave a talk on behalf of the Jewish Board of Deputies to an enthusiastic (interfaith) audience in North London. Some real passion and concern — though I have to admit that I was a bit astonished to discover that taking such "an activist stance" on climate change is still seen by some Jews as pretty provocative.
As may well be the case with some Muslims. If so, all they need to do is to get their heads around the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. (The full text is here.)
And meanwhile, our climate-focussed Pope played an absolute blinder when he was over in the United States — consistently and passionately telling every audience he ended up in front of (including the legion on Capitol Hill) that any and every person of faith has an absolute obligation to play their part in addressing climate change...urgently!
His talk to the United Nations General Assembly went further than he’s ever gone before in terms of asserting the importance of the environment. I laughed out loud at the way in which even the Guardian (usually more than a little sceptical about papal utterances) came across somewhat awestruck:
“The environment should enjoy the same rights and protections as humanity," Pope Francis told the UN General Assembly.
"It must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist," he went on to say. The speech marked the first time Francis has explicitly said that the environment had a right that equated it with humanity. In his 180-page encyclical on the environment released in July, the Pope talked about the rights of individuals, the poor, and future generations, but not of the Earth itself. The declaration gives Nature greater primacy in Catholic thinking than previously, deepening the traditional responsibility of humans to serve as "stewards of the environment.”
Back to The People’s Pilgrimage — and what we ourselves might do by way of our own pilgrimages. It doesn’t have to be long or difficult; short and modest, but full of deep reflection, will do the job perfectly. With others, or on your own.
And if all else fails, join the teeming masses in London on Sunday November 29th, and let your spirits soar at being part of what one hopes will be a mighty throng.
Image via Hanisa Valentina