The Copenhagen Summit on climate change brought together 119 heads of state and governments. Caritas representatives and bishops came from 25 countries, including Mexico, Zambia, South Africa, USA, India, Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, Mozambique, Kenya, the UK, Spain, Ireland and Germany.
They prayed at a Mass presided over by Caritas Africa President, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala. They joined a special ecumenical service with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, at which the Catholic Church was represented by Caritas Mexico President Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega.
They joined 100,000 people to march through Copenhagen. Caritas took part in a symbolic ringing of bells in Copenhagen and around the world. The bells were rung 350 times to represent the safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In Europe, over 2,400 Catholic churches took part.
Caritas Europa President Fr Erny Gillen spoke at an event inside the conference centre on the role of faith. “What is key is not changing our ethics, but how to put life in them,”he said. “The Church has the power to motivate people.We see this with the global campaign Caritas has been taking part in.”
In the end, world leaders produced a weak deal that will not help the poor in developing countries cope with the effects of worsening weather conditions and has put millions of lives at risk. Their shortsighted approach means that the pressure must continue.
Caritas Bangladesh President Theotonius Gomes said at the end of the talks, “We have to take hope out of Copenhagen.We saw a huge mobilisation of people clamouring for justice. Those calls will grow. The momentum for change will become unstoppable.”