Every individual must help resolve climate problems – Catholic Primate

‘Each one of us must accept our personal and collective need to change’, Archbishop says

A culture of blame and despair regarding the future will achieve little where climate change is concerned, the Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has warned.

“We must choose together to transform the culture and dispel the bleak outlook by actively pooling our gifts and talents in a partnership of dialogue and creativity, thereby changing hearts and minds and bringing all our shoulders to the task of protecting and caring for life on Earth. Let us be passionate and hopeful for change,” he said.

“At a personal and community level we are called to greater simplicity and sustainability in our families, workplaces, schools and universities. As servants of God and of one another, this will also mean accepting our own share of the pain necessary for ecological conversion,” he said.

Speaking to graduates of theology and philosophy at St Patrick's College Maynooth, he said it was clear from events in Glasgow and elsewhere at the weekend "that people, especially our young people, are demanding courageous action – not just words – from leaders and government at every level. But none of us can be silent on these matters".

“We all share responsibility for the problems facing our world, but equally, we share responsibility for finding the solutions. Each one of us must accept our personal and collective need to change and make sacrifices, recognising the inherent issues of justice and fairness that are involved,” he said.

Climate change was "already having a disproportionate impact on those who are on the margins, those most dependent on fragile ecosystems and most vulnerable to famine, to drought, to food and water insecurity and conflict, to exploitative and predatory economic interests, to the destruction of their homes and displacement of their families."

At Maynooth "the three institutions – St Patrick's College, the Pontifical University and Maynooth University – share an amazing campus in Co Kildare which could, if we worked together, become a model of sustainability and community wellbeing", he said.

There was “so much that could be done to ensure that plans and developments here represent best practice in terms of energy management, quality green spaces for living and studying, and active commitment to minimising our carbon footprint. At the same time, these sister institutions have great potential to create a model space for shared dialogue and research, where faith, culture and science interact to foster a better future for all.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times