An interfaith rally in Durban.

By Martina Liebsch, Director of Poverty and Advocacy at Caritas Internationalis

Representatives from different faiths gathered at a ‘Climate Justice and Food Security: Moral, ethical and spiritual imperatives’ side event 7 December at the Durban climate change talks.

The event was sponsored by Caritas Internationalis and World Council of Churches. The panel was chaired by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban and included Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim representatives.

Reverend Mardi Tendal, of the United Church of Canada, said we should work towards transforming cultures of consumption to cultures of responsibility. She said there is a moral imperative for action and solidarity in reducing the adverse effects of climate change.

Rabbi Hillel Avidan from Durban said God maintains the creation, but gives us the responsibility to care for it. We have failed to do so and we have recognised it.

“Change does not happen through treaties and conventions, but by bringing in compassion and generosity,” said Sister Jayanti Kirpalani (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University). She said the situation of the planet is linked to lack of love and respect.

Reverend Nicta Lubaale. Secretary General, Organization of African Instituted Churches, said in our global economic system greed has taken over and we need to break that. The Our Father prayer helps us: It says ‘our’ daily bread not ‘my’ daily bread.

750 verses of the Koran reflect on nature and creation, said Bedria Mohammed Ahmed (Women of Faith Network. Ethiopian Interfaith Development Dialogue and Action). The Koran calls for respect of all life forms. Religious teachings can play a pivotal role in change and faith leaders should devote their efforts to this.

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children,” she quoted an old American Indian proverb.

Fr. Patricio Flores of Caritas Mexico referred to voices of indigenous people and farmers: “The Earth is confused. We expect one thing and something else happens. One day the heavens rain down on us, and the next day we are freezing cold or boiling hot. We are suffering with the Earth and we’re sorry to abandon her in her agony, as it’s more difficult for her to bear fruit and we have to look for food elsewhere”.

Dr. Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi urged us to continue our efforts, that leaders listen to us and to educate people about the change in lifestyle needed.