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Answering the Call to Care for Earth and People

Around Oceania this week, groups connected to Caritas and the Catholic Church are protecting and enhancing the environment where they live. They are answering the call of Pope Francis to care for the earth and care for the poor.

For World Environment Day (5 June) and World Oceans Day (8 June), Caritas in Oceania is also launching two online platforms to share stories on environmental impacts and response – and discuss how to care for our common home in the region.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew will meet student environmental representatives from Catholic secondary schools in the Archdiocese on Thursday 6 June. He will listen to their concerns and share insights from Pope Francis’ letter on creation care: Laudato Si’. The gathering arose from the School Strike for Climate of 15 March. The group will also plant a symbolic totara tree at St Mary’s College, Wellington.

In Samoa, Caritas Volunteers will join a city wide clean-up of the capital Apia on 8 June, in preparation for the Pacific Games in July. Volunteers from various organisations and different communities will collect rubbish and sort it for recycling or disposal. It is part of a series of events as part of ‘Greening the Games’.

In Tonga, Caritas Tonga is training up youth in disaster resilience – both pre- and post-disaster. Caritas Tonga has been instrumental in pre-positioning, emergency awareness training and post-disaster recovery, working closely with the National Emergency Management Office. Such work helped Tonga through Cyclone Gita in March 2018 and has put in place measures to strengthen future responses.

In Australia, the Catholic-based Pacific Calling Partnership will bring four young climate activists from Kiribati and Tuvalu to attend Climate Reality training on 5-7 June in Brisbane. The training – with climate educator and former US Vice-President Al Gore – aims to strengthen grass-roots action and education on climate change. The Pacific Calling Partnership – operating from the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education – aims to amplify Pacific voices on climate change and link them with concerned people in Australia and internationally.

Over the last five years, Caritas members in Oceania have raised concerns about environmental impacts affecting Oceania peoples through the Caritas State of the Environment for Oceania reports – released each St Francis Day on 4 October.

Now, they also provide two online platforms associated with the environment report.

• An online map with ongoing stories of environment impact and response from the grass-roots and coastal edges of the region. This is an online monitor for some of the issues covered in State of the Environment for Oceania.
• “The Oceanian” – a Facebook community for sharing of stories and views in an online discussion forum on the environmental challenges and responses we face.

Caritas members in Oceania work together to raise awareness and call for action on climate change and environmental degradation that damages the lives of people in our region – and threatens the future of all of us. They are part of the Caritas Internationalis confederation of 165 Catholic agencies living out and promoting the ideal of one family living on one common home.

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