The Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities organized on Wednesday, January 22, in Davos a press conference to talk about safety and quality of life of communities that are being eroded by the climate emergency and other growing risks, and the role of religions and faiths in helping vulnerable populations.

In fact, religious leaders and communities of faith have an important role to play in order to create safer communities where all can thrive. But, it is today still evident that – while over 80% of the global population identifies with a religious group – multi-stakeholder approaches to solve these problems often exclude important voices of faith. 

Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, took part in these event along with other religious leaders like: the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomeos; Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi and President of the Conference of European Rabbis; Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of the Nishkam Group of Charitable Organisations.

Full text of the final statement of Cardinal Turkson

Gathered here under the banner “Stakeholders for a sustainable world”, religious leaders on this interfaith panel have been invited to recognise that we, as stakeholders, contribute the wisdom of our religious traditions to maintaining working for a sustainable world.

Therefore, this particular contribution that we have to make – the wisdom of our religious traditions – is that which we bring to Davos and to all of this conversation. Some of them have already been referred to by the previous speakers.

I’d like to draw attention to one such wisdom, and it is, for example, the wisdom contained in current present-day reference to the world as a cosmos. The reference to created new reality as cosmos simply means that it’s an ordered system, which because of its being an ordered system is also beautiful and attains its purpose of maintaining and sustaining human life.

Now it also suggests that this order system was created – was brought into being – by some power. In the tradition of the Jewish – in our Scriptures, Christian – Old Testament, this is referred to as the creation of the world by God. As a result of God’s creation, the world is an ordered system meant to sustain human life. This also means that because it was brought about – brought into being – it can revert into chaos.

It can revert into chaos when we, from our conduct, abuse it; disregard the conditions which make it a cosmos and make it fall into disarray.

That is why Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Laudato si’ draws attention to this and he identifies two cries.

He says the Earth is crying to us, and the poor of the Earth are also crying to us. So the Earth, which was meant to be the home of humanity, has become two elements which are now crying to us, because the Earth, the home of humanity, is falling into disarray.

That is what calls for our attention. All of us – all of us having been born to families – have an experience of this. When a baby begins to cry, the parents go to it, they take it, they pay attention, they try to get it away from the situation which is causing the crying. And if, with the analogy of Pope Francis, the Earth and its poor are crying to us, then there is an urgency on the part of humanity: to go to these elements which are crying to us and to try to save them, to help them stop crying.

That is the urgency of the situation which we live in. Scientists and economists talk about the world at a tipping edge, and the tipping edge that’s caused brings urgency to the situation, and that’s what we’d like to present as the need to stop the Earth and its poor from crying.

And so we’re here as guests of Davos, of the World Economic Forum, and being here as guests, one of the elements we can bring to this need to stop the world from crying is what one professor describes as here, technology and all the wisdoms of the Earth are coming to fashion a global consciousness for a change. For a change, because he says that technology and all the work that comes up here should not determine what human life is and what we become.

We should rather make use of technology to work for the common good: the common good of the humanity invites us to recognise the well-being of the earth and its inhabitants.

So let’s respect the dignity of people: let us ensure the Earth is a safe place for us and those who come after us, and let us ensure the well-being of all.

There is no second world, as people are used to saying, and the Earth, as our Common Home, is something that we are all invited to sustain, so it supports us now and continues to support those who come after us.

A universal and intergenerational solidarity should characterise our gestures and our action.

Thank you.

(Source: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development)

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.