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African Church Leaders Make Bold Demands on Climate: Listen to the People, Deliver Results at COP27

Earlier today, His Eminence Fridolin Besungu Cardinal Ambongo, the First Vice President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the Catholic Church’s highest body on the African continent, held a press conference announcing the completion of the African Climate Dialogues.

The cardinal did not mince words, saying in a written statement that “climate change is a moral outrage. It is a tragic and striking example of structural sin, facilitated by callous indifference and selfish greed.” The cardinal also emphasized how important it is for world leaders to deliver results at COP27 as people in Africa are already suffering from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

The African Climate Dialogues (ACD) were a series of listening sessions that included Catholic Church and secular civil society actors from around Africa and the world. Participants in the dialogues discussed policy priorities and shared experiences on five key topics: false climate solutions and the Congo Basin; food systems, agriculture, and adaptation; climate finance; loss and damage; and climate-induced migration and displacement. You can read the ACD Communiqué below.

By championing the ACD and its outcomes, SECAM has highlighted the moral and ethical significance of the current policy debates on climate. If negotiators take this message seriously at COP27, they will find ways to work together, compromise, and come to agreements that contribute to the common good. According to the African bishops and the ACD, those agreements will include abandoning false solutions such as carbon offsets, supporting small-scale food producers, making it easier for community-based organizations to access climate finance, paying reparations for loss and damage, and attending to the plight of climate refugees.

The African Climate Dialogues were also an example of a synodal process. The representatives of SECAM chose to speak out on climate change only after listening and responding to the people of God, convinced that the Holy Spirit works through synodal processes such as these. As the Catholic Church’s synod on synodality enters its continental phase, the ACD can provide a model of listening, discernment, and servant leadership to the Church in Africa and around the world.

The message of African bishops and civil society is clear: we need climate justice now. The only question remaining is whether negotiators will deliver results when they meet in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in just a few weeks.

ACD Communiqué in French [HERE] and Portuguese [HERE]

Also, check out this link [here] for more resources from ACD.

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