Catholics kick off Lenten Fast for Climate Justice

Catholics kick off Lenten Fast for Climate Justice

The season of Lent is a penitential time of sacrifice for those who observe the tradition, and if you haven’t decided what to give up during the next 40 days, the Global Catholic Climate Movement has a suggestion: Food.

Ash WednesdayOkay, they’re not asking people to give up eating for 40 days. Just one day.

It’s all part of a Lenten Fast for Climate Justice, a chain of one-day fasts that will sweep across the 45 countries between Ash Wednesday and Easter to raise awareness about climate change.

From the campaign’s Web site:

Lent is the time when we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, and we are invited to reflect, repent, fast, and listen to God. “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer“, said Pope Francis in his recent Lenten message. We propose that during this Lent we pray and fast for the renewal of our relationship with creation and with our brothers and sisters in poverty who are already suffering the impacts of man-made climate change. And, besides standing in solidarity with the victims of climate change, we urge our political leaders to commit to ambitious climate action to solve this urgent crisis and keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius (relative to pre-industrial levels).

Each country has been assigned a day to fast. The day for the U.S. is March 16. Details are available from Rhett Engelking of the Franciscan Action Network: gro.n1635203428oitca1635203428nacsi1635203428cnarf1635203428@gnik1635203428legne1635203428.

So, what does this have to do with Congress and our efforts to pass Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation?

A little over 30 percent of the members of the House and Senate are Catholic, the largest religious denomination in Congress. If we know anything about developing relationships with our elected officials, it’s that the most powerful connections are personal. What could be more personal than writing to a Catholic member of Congress and telling them you fasted for a day during Lent because of your concern about climate change, its impact on the poor, and ask them to support a revenue-neutral fee on carbon that will minimize that impact.

The fast for climate change kicks off a year in which Catholics will play a big role in efforts to persuade leaders and lawmakers around the world to take decisive action on climate change that will culminate in a global treaty in Paris in December.

In the run up to Paris, Pope Francis is expected to issue an encyclical, likely in June, that will deal with climate change. In September, the Pope will bring up the topic in an address a joint session of Congress and will also speak to the UN General Assembly.

The CCL Catholic Action Team is preparing materials for outreach to Catholics and other actions to leverage the voice of Catholics on the climate issue. You can join the team on CCL Community.

Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.