I got home to Argentina exactly 30 days after starting my trip round the world. I was just getting over jet lag when I was off again, this time to Lima.
This was our twice yearly meeting of the house of bishops, to which two of the suffragans also came (Mateo and Duarte). This time in addition to our normal business, we had agenda’d in a wider consultation about the church’s response to Climate Change in our region. For this we were joined by an excellent group of mostly lay people from several countries in Latin America, with some expertise or interest in the subject.
A declaration appears below… meanwhile some photos
Statement by the South American bishops on Climate Change and the Role of the Church
In the light of God’s commandment in Genesis (Gen 2:15) to be stewards who love the Creation that He loves (Mt 6:25-30), a Creation made for the glory of God and not for man’s, and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations: we the Anglican bishops of the Province of South America, at our meeting of the “First Conference on Climate Change and the Role of the Church”, 25th to 27th May 2018 in Lima, Peru, and in the same spirit as other Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches, and secular entities that share similar concerns, make the following statement:
At this time of proven global environmental crisis, characterized by climate change, we in our churches unite in lamenting profoundly and denouncing firmly the plundering of the earth, which is created in the love of God, and we commit ourselves in prayer, solidarity, and action – personal, local, municipal and national – in order to achieve its renewal and transformation.
This action is in accord with the fifth of the Marks of Mission proposed in 1984 by the Anglican Consultative Council, and which we lay out below:
- Proclaim the Good News of Salvation
- Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- Respond to human need through loving service
- Strive to transform unjust structures in society, oppose violence in all its forms, and seek peace and reconciliation; and
- Struggle to protect the integrity of Creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Our perspective transcends capitalist politics and economics, sustained by the conviction of the sanctity of Creation, acquired in the service of the indigenous peoples of the Southern Cone. They knew how to welcome us with generosity, allowing us not only to develop our lives amongst them, but also to learn from their perspectives and world views about the earth and our relationship to her.
From the Gospel of Christ we find the basis of the right to human life, healthy environment and social development which is ecologically sustainable and socially just.
Considering the critical situation of our planet we announce and warn of the necessity of immediate action in relation to the 17 SDGs established by UN, (see appendix), adopting them at a Provincial level as the orienting framework for concrete actions that we as the body of Christ can take to care for Creation, as we were commanded to do (Gen 1.26, 2.15).
Within the wide spectrum of possible action we recommend:
To our church members:
- Become aware of the origin and environmental impact of the processes of production and distribution of the food we consume. Within our possibilities reduce the consumption of food which has high environmental impact. For example not to eat meat one day a week.
- Adopt practices designed to reduce our environmental impact, amongst others not waste water, recycle, manage rubbish responsibly. For example convert organic waste into compost in order to renew the earth.
To our congregations:
- Include in our liturgies and acts of worship reference to the care of Creation, as well as adhering to global initiatives such as the Season of Creation.
- Plant trees to commemorate special events, such as baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. Since not all churches have land or sufficient space, these trees may be planted anywhere, as long as the congregation is aware of such actions.
- Reduce the use of disposable plastic as well as paper. Promote the practice of recycling. Conduct clean-up campaigns in the community surrounding the church.
To our Dioceses:
- Delegate to a person or group of people the responsibility for generating actions aimed at the care of Creation, who will act as a point of contact within the diocese and with other dioceses.
- Recognise, promote and strengthen the central role of women. The importance of women’s voices in the Anglican Communion cannot be overemphasized, especially wherever and whenever the aim is to strengthen relationships within the community.
- Within our possibilities and abilities help vulnerable people groups, especially indigenous peoples and families in situations of extreme poverty to put into effect their rights to a healthy environment within the framework of national and international law, including Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
- Report to government authorities in public and concrete ways the violation of environmental norms and the corruption linked to the destruction and contamination of the environment.
- Develop our ability to influence government authorities with the aim of having an impact on the development of and respect for environmental norms.
To our Province:
- Within what is practical and possible avoid financial investments in activities or businesses which harm the environment.
- Reduce air travel to a minimum, choosing where possible the use of video-conferencing. Include the practice of mitigation of carbon emissions for all flights related to Provincial business.
- Include in the agenda of Provincial synods an annual report on action carried out at diocesan level in favour of Creation Care.
- Promote actions between dioceses, especially neighbouring ones, which are affected by similar or shared environmental problems (such as, for example, in the case of Argentina and Paraguay, who share the Pilcomayo river basin, today affected by extensive deforestation)
- Promote ecumenical actions, seeking to join forces with other churches at a regional level
In conclusion, we reiterate our recognition that God’s Creation is loved and sustained by Him (He cares for the birds and the flowers – Mt 6:25-30) and nevertheless it requires the love, care and sustenance of humans, placed by God as His agents and stewards on earth. Therefore we include Creation Care as an integral part of our expression of the preaching of the Good News of Salvation, which includes a constant proclamation of the sustenance and renewal of the earth. May God help us to be faithful to Him in areas where we have been indifferent, careless and sinful in the past! “Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth!” (Ps 104:30)
Signatories: Rt Rev Gregory Venables, Primate of the Province of South America, Diocesan Bishop of Argentina
Rt Rev Nicholas Drayson, Diocesan Bishop, Northern Argentina
Rt Rev Mateo Alto, Suffragan Bishop, Northern Argentina
Rt Rev Urbano Duarte, Suffragan Bishop, Northern Argentina
Rt Rev Crisanto Rojas, Suffragan Bishop, Northern Argentina
Rt Rev Raphael Samuel, Diocesan Bishop, Bolivia
Rt Rev Héctor Zavala, Diocesan Bishop, Chile
Rt Rev Abelino Apeleo, Suffragan Bishop, Chile
Rt Rev Nelson Ojeda, Suffragan Bishop, Chile
Rt Rev Alfredo Cooper, Suffragan Bishop, Chile
Rt Rev Peter Bartlett, Diocesan Bishop, Paraguay
Rt Rev Jorge Aguilar, Diocesan Bishop, Peru
Appendix: We give notice and warning of the need for immediate action in the following areas, choosing among the 17 SDGs the 7 most urgent and relevant in our context:
- End hunger (2); confronting the waste of food, inefficient and predatory methods of agriculture, and the degradation of the environment.
- Life on earth15); seeking to prevent deforestation, desertification and the loss of animal and plant species.
- Climate action (13); overturning the well-known and principal threat to global development through renewable energies, clean technologies and decisive action
- Peace, justice and robust institutions (16); calling for the creation of a peaceful world, the reduction of violence, exploitation, torture, arms trafficking, and slavery and proposing peace, justice and reconciliation
- Good quality education (4); assuring free access to good quality education for all, especially young girls, who have been discriminated against in the past and who are instrumental in the growth, education and quality of life of future generations in their turn.
- Life under the water (14); overturning marine pollution the length of our immense coasts and in our abundant rivers and lakes, since the waters provide food, medicine and work for millions of people.
- Responsible consumption and production (12) considering more responsibly the environmental impact of the bad use of the earth’s resources.