(Vatican Radio) As the COP23 conference on climate change moves into its second week in Bonn, Germany, a delegation of leaders from the Pacific Island states arrived at the talks over the weekend. They hope to play a key role in discussions on how to implement the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting carbon emissions and helping to prevent global warming.
Pope Francis met at the weekend with the delegation of leaders from the Pacific Island Forum to share his concerns about the impact of rising sea levels on vulnerable island, coastal and fishing communities. The pope called for global cooperation, for solidarity and strategies to address the deterioration of the environment and the health of the oceans. He blamed many of the causes of this “environmental decay” on short-sighted human activity, provoked by the exploitation of natural and human resources.
Just ahead of the papal audience, Philippa Hitchen spoke to two of the Pacific island leaders, Taneti Maamau, President of the Republic of Kiribati , and Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, deputy Prime Minister of Samoa , at an encounter hosted by the Australian embassy to the Holy See.
Climate change is seriously affecting the livelihood of Karibati in terms of costal erosion, President Maamau says, explaining that it affects the water quality in particular. Roads are also affected in coastal areas and schools often have to be closed when there are droughts, water surges, king tides and even cyclones. These are becoming regular problems, forcing us to look at alternatives for water supplies, he says.
Climate affecting lives and livelihoods
He lists a few alternatives, such as rainwater harvesting, which is problematic as it is entirely dependent upon sufficient rainfall. Other solutions, such as desalination of seawater, are also being examined, the president says, but these new technologies are expensive in terms of both importation and maintenance.
Time is running out
President Maamau says he is looking for a bigger commitment for reducing global temperatures, especially from larger, coal producing countries. For him , the sooner the agreements are made, the better. “We can’t wait. Our people are crying out!” the president states, simply.
Gratitude for Laudato SI ‘
President Maamau says he finds great encouragement in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si . “The earth is our home, our mother”, he says, and we have to take care of it. That’s the divine mandate we were given, he adds, but sometimes, we are too greedy, hoping we can take everything in our hands to satisfy our needs. But sometimes we take too much and that’s causing trouble. My message to Pope Francis is, thank you!” the President says.
Seeking to lower 2 degrees limit
Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa notes that the Pacific nations have been advocating strongly to further limit the raising of the global temperature to 1.5 degrees, rather than 2 degrees. With scientific evidence pointing to an acceleration of climate change, she says, the Pacific Island nations are hoping to show how urgent the issue is, as well as proposing realistic ideas on how to achieve the 1.5 limit.
Responding to U.S. decision
Mata’afa, who is also the Samoan minister for the Environment says “We will also have to look at whether we can strategize and organise as a community of parties” to respond to the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.
No country can escape the effects
The deputy prime minister says that while Samoa is predominantly volcanic, other low lying countries like Tuvalu, Tokelau or Kiribati are experiencing serious impact, both in terms of encroachment of land and water tables. Several countries have already purchased land in Fiji in response to the risks, but she notes the question of sovereignty is a pressing one. “What happens to a country when they lose their land, how do you re-determine your sovereignty, maintain your cultural identities and so forth?” she asks.
Mata’afa notes these are global problems, “but the immediacy of the issue is there for us”. We’re seeing natural disasters increase all around the world and no country can claim to be free from the effects of climate change, she says.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a pair of telegrammes to Iraq and Iran on Monday, expressing his condolences for the damage and loss of life caused by Sunday’s severe earthquake.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:
In the two messages signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis says he “was deeply saddened” by news of the 7.3-magnitude earthquake which struck the border region between Iran and Iraq.
He assured all those affected by the tragedy of his “prayerful solidarity” and his “sorrow to all who mourn the loss of their loved ones”.
The Pope also offered “his prayers for the deceased and commends them to the mercy of the Almighty.”
Pope Francis closed his messages by invoking “the divine blessings of consolation and strength” upon the injured and “the emergency and civil authorities engaged in rescue and recovery efforts”.
Please find below the Pope’s original telegrammes:
Message – Iraq:
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the severe earthquake which has struck Iraq, and he assures all affected by this tragedy of his prayerful solidarity. In expressing his sorrow to all who mourn the loss of their loved ones, he offers his prayers for the deceased and commends them to the mercy of the Almighty. Upon the injured and the emergency and civil authorities engaged in rescue and recovery efforts, His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
Message to Iran:
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the severe earthquake which has struck Iran, and he assures all affected by this tragedy of his prayerful solidarity. In expressing his sorrow to all who mourn the loss of their loved ones, he offers his prayers for the deceased and commends them to the mercy of the Almighty. Upon the injured and the emergency and civil authorities engaged in rescue and recovery efforts, His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Scandal wounds hearts and kills hopes: this was the core of Pope Francis ’ remarks to the faithful following the Gospel at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae . “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,” the Pope said, recalling the words of Our Lord in the Gospel reading, “but woe to the one through whom they occur.” Hence the warning to his disciples: “Be on your guard!”
“So, be careful not to scandalize. Scandal is evil, because scandal wounds – it wounds God’s People where they are most vulnerable, and strikes the People of God where they are weakest – and many times, the wounds inflicted by scandal are borne by the faithful throughout their lives. Not only does it do harm: scandal is capable of murder – of killing hopes, killing dreams, killing families, killing so many hearts.”
Click below to hear our report
The Holy Father stressed that Christ ’s warning, “Be on your guard!” is a warning for everyone, and especially to people who call themselves Christian, but live as Pagans. This is “the scandal of the People of God .”:
“How many Christians , by their example, with their inconsistency, drive people away from the Faith: the incoherence of Christians is one of the readiest weapons the devil has to weaken the People of God and to divert the People of God from the Lord – to say one thing and do another.”
This is the “incoherence” which gives scandal, which today gives us to ask ourselves, “How coherent is my life? How coherent is it with the Gospel, How coherent is it with the Lord ?” The Pope then offered the example of Christian entrepreneurs who do not pay just wages and who exploit people for their own gain, or even the scandal given by pastors in the Church, who, careless of their sheep, see them wander off and away.
“ Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters: both God and money – and when the pastor is one who is attached to money, he gives scandalize. People are scandalized: the shepherd, attached to money. Every shepherd must ask: How is my friendship with money? Or the shepherd who seeks to rise: vanity leads him to climb, instead of being gentle, humble, because meekness and humility favor closeness to the people – or the shepherd who feels himself a lord, and lords it over everyone, proud, and not the servant-pastor of God’s People .”
Pope Francis concluded saying, “Let today be the propitious day, on which to make this examination of conscience: Do I give scandal? If so, how? Thus, shall we be able to answer the Lord and approach Him a little more closely.”
(from Vatican Radio)…