Two Sisters of the Good Samaritan were among a multi-faith delegation that converged on Canberra in early June to lobby federal politicians on behalf of the many people of faith who believe urgent action is needed to curb climate change.
Sisters Clare Condon and Geraldine Kearney, and the 26 other religious leaders who travelled to Canberra, were united through the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a network which inspires religious communities to take practical action to help create an ecologically sustainable and just future.
The delegation, which included leaders and representatives from major faith traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, broke up into small groups and met with members of parliament and senators in their Canberra offices to advocate for legislation that will reduce Australia’s reliance on carbon-intensive products and increase the use of renewable energy.
“It was a great privilege to be part of an interfaith group with a common interest and concern about the environment and care of our planet. We had so much in common around values,” said Sister Clare Condon, congregational leader of the Good Samaritan Sisters.
Clare said the group was respectful of one another and of the politicians they met. Their emphasis was on encouraging good government with long-term vision.
“We encouraged the politicians to place the common good at the heart of their deliberations. We emphasised that many people in Australia are tired of wedge politics and the personal attacks that take up so much of their parliamentary deliberation.
“We also said it is time to look to future of our children and grandchildren, rather than the short-term profiteering of some corporations,” she explained.
For Sister Geraldine Kearney, who represented Catholic Religious Australia, the peak body for Catholic religious congregations in Australia, the mood among the multi-faith group was one of eagerness and passionate enthusiasm.
“Members of all various faith beliefs and religious practices gathered for informal discussions, and the anticipation, fervour and energy surrounding our meeting at this point in this critical decade on such an important issue as action on climate change was almost palpable,” she said.
“In all our diversity, together I think we brought a sense of the strength from within each of our various traditions, with a strong and vibrant hope for the future of our country, our neighbours, our cosmos. It was good to be there together!”
As part of the Canberra visit, a public forum entitled “Australian Religious Perspectives on Climate Change” was also held. Bishop George Browning, former Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn, presented a paper offering a religious perspective on climate change and the policy responses needed.
Responses to the paper were presented by Mark Dreyfus (Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change), Greg Hunt (Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water) and Dr Janette Lindesay (Associate Professor at the Australian National University and climate scientist).