Bishop Martin Hayes will represent the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference at COP26 in November. COPs (Conference of the Parties) are annual global climate summits attended by officials from nearly every country on Earth. This year the UK, in partnership with Italy, will host COP26 in Glasgow.
Bishop Hayes said, “I am looking forward to attending COP26 on behalf of parishioners who are concerned about the environment. It will provide an opportunity, in a public way, to renew our care for God’s creation which is an integral part of our Christian vocation. Thankfully the challenge of climate change is now a global priority and I believe that COP26 will be critical for world leaders who will be making decisions for the future of humanity and for all of creation.”
“As people of faith we are called to be custodians of God’s creation, ‘this is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’ (Laudato Si, 217). We are also called to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable in our world – the poor – who are on the frontline of the effects of climate change. The Gospel calls us to stand with the oppressed, always. It is for this reason that I will join with other Church and religious leaders from around the world at the UN Climate Conference. This is the most pressing issue of our time and the outcome of COP26 will have repercussions for generations to come.“People of faith will gather in Glasgow to pray for our common home, for political leaders, for those who are suffering the disastrous consequences of the climate crisis. We will also unite in solidarity with those who cannot be present, the voices from the developing world who are suffering the most from the effects of climate change.”
Bishop Hayes continued, “Pope Francis has urged us to create the momentum that is needed at this critical time. A few weeks back the Holy Father joined scientists and 40 religious leaders to promote climate awareness among decision-makers in their countries, with the faithful in their communities, and to ‘plead with the international community, gathered at COP26, to take speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.’ I hope that the decisions agreed next week in Glasgow will help realise this worthy ambition.
“At COP26 I intend to advocate for policies relating to climate justice, to attend civil society events, interfaith gatherings and prayer vigils which will take place around this conference. At Mass I will pray to preserve God’s creation and for this and for future generations.”
Bishop Martin Hayes is Bishop of Kilmore, the coordinating bishop for Laudato Si’, and a member of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Bishops’ Conference. Bishop Hayes speaks about COP26 in a brief video interview available above.