Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Found in Translation: Building Interfaith Bridges through Climate Action

August 12, 2015

  by Erin Odom, Peace and Conflict Transformation Intern
Columban Fr. Tom King accompanies people displaced by flooding in Pakistan in 2010.

Columban Fr. Tom King accompanies people displaced by flooding in Pakistan in 2010.

“In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.” – Pope Francis, in “Laudato Si’, Care for Our Common Home,” paragraph 3.

What an invitation! We all have been grappling with how to respond. The CCAO has offered a Laudato Si’ Study and Action Guide for individuals and small groups. And we have action alerts to enable you to:

Invite your members of Congress to read Laudato Si’

Tell Congress to support U.S. contribution to the international Green Climate Fund

Let your members of Congress know that you support the U.S. Clean Power Plan

Sign the Catholic Climate petition to world leaders asking them to take action

Beyond the United States and throughout the world, Columban missionaries have accepted Francis’ invitation and are taking action. One exciting development is in Pakistan. Columban Fr. Liam O’Callaghan is working to extend Francis’ invitation to the Pakistani people by translating the encyclical into Urdu. Coordinating with the Theological Institute for the Laity, Fr. O’Callaghan has begun the three-month long process of translating the 190 pages.

The pope’s teaching on the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor is especially significant in Pakistan. Pakistan makes a tiny contribution to total global greenhouse gas emissions – less than 1% (among the lowest in the world) – but Pakistan is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and it has very low technical and financial capacity to adapt to its adverse impacts. In recent years, the Pakistani people have suffered from changing rainfall patterns, floods, and extreme heat, all of which reduce crop yields, food supplies, and access to safe water.

The vast majority of people in Pakistan (approximately 96%) are Muslim, with less than 2% of the country self-identifying as Christian. Fr. O’Callaghan hopes that Laudato Si’ can be a bridge for interreligious dialogue between the Catholic and Muslim communities. “Laudato Si is inspirational and hopefully will generate awareness on the critical issue which is still very much lacking in the Church in general here. We also plan to work from a more interfaith perspective,” he said.

The environment is not just a Catholic issue or an individual issue. It is a community issue, a national issue, a global issue, and an interfaith issue. All people have a stake and are invited to care for our common home.