Praise Be: Local churches and environmentalists welcome Pope’s call to climate action

The West Kootenay EcoSociety and West Kootenay churches, including Nelson’s Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, Development & Peace Committee, the Rossland Sacred Heart Parish, Development & Peace Committee, the Castlegar United Church, and Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge, that includes the Trail United Church, Rossland’s St. Andrew’s United Church, BeaverValley United Church and the Salmo Community Church, welcome the release of the Pope’s teaching letter, the encyclical, Praise be to you: on the care of the common home, which calls on humanity to take climate action.

The encyclical, released today, addresses the economy, the environment and equity issues. It asks humanity to care for creation; the planet and the people are to be seen as one common good and not separate from each other.

“Taking climate action is a moral issue. We need to care for our home, the earth, and all those people in it,” said Barry Nelson, the local chairperson of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace, a social movement established by the Canadian Catholic Bishops in 1967. “Our organization supports partners in the Global South working on issues of justice, of which climate change is seen as the single greatest threat to poverty reduction. Everyone in the global village is affected by climate change, but it is the poor who are and will continue to pay the biggest price.”

“The Catholic parishes in Rossland, Trail and Fruitvale will be working along with others in the Nelson Diocese to help people to understand and support the changes that the Holy Father is trying to inspire. It will be good to have such solid direction and support from Pope Francis as we work on our upcoming fall education and action program for parishioners to ‘create a climate of change,” said Mike Bourchier of the Development & Peace Committee at the Catholic Sacred Heart Parish in Rossland.

“The Pope’s encyclical reminds us that we are stewards of the gifts that God has given us in the created order.  As a consequence our actions regarding creation have moral implications, especially with regards as to the effect that environmental degradation has and is having on the world’s poorest people,” said Rev. Michael Hare, Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge Minister.

Faith communities in the West Kootenays will celebrate and internalize the encyclical throughout this year. Plans include joining the global day of song and celebration on June 28, church discussion groups on climate change and faith, and coming together around key Canadian and international climate moments.

“Faith communities in the area are making bold statements about the need to act for climate justice. We look forward to working with them more closely as folks in the West Kootenays mobilize around climate concerns,” said Montana Burgess, Community Organizer with the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

Although this is not the first time the Roman Catholic Church has addressed climate justice, the timing of the encyclical is poised to influence a key political year for addressing global climate justice. The encyclical coincides with unprecedented numbers of citizens calling for climate action and the Canadian federal government’s refusal to act in time to avoid climate chaos.

“This encyclical is very timely, as this year the United Nations seeks to reach agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals, where currently climate change is a stand-alone goal, but an agreement on the Goals would also include emissions reductions and compensation for those most affected by climate change,” said Dale Dodge, Chairperson of Nelson Diocese Development and Peace Committee. “Pope Francis is trying to help the world make real progress on halting climate change.”

“We, in the United Church, are thrilled to see this kind of leadership from Pope Francis,” said Greg Powell, Minister of Castlegar United Church. “People of faith of all stripes are deeply concerned about the state of Creation and are quite disturbed by the lack of leadership at many levels. If the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists are right, humanity could face some dire consequences—including much human suffering—as a result of our past actions. But there is still time to transition to an economy that is fairer for more people and that protects the sacredness of Creation. The United Church of Canada’s General Council will decide on many issues relating to climate justice when it gathers in August. No doubt this encyclical will help with those decisions.”

“We’re thrilled the Roman Catholic Church, at its highest level, is asking people all around the world to pray, reflect and make changes in their everyday lives, at home, in their own communities,” said Brian Deon, parishioner of the Catholic church in Nelson. “We are excited about this initiative.”

Read the complete encyclical here:

West Kootenay EcoSociety is a non-profit organization located in Nelson BC. Through education, outreach, community building, research, and advocacy, the EcoSociety works to protect the natural environment while building a just and sustainable post-carbon world.

Contact Information

Barry Nelson, local chairperson

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace, Nelson



Mike Bourchier

Development & Peace Committee at the Catholic Sacred Heart Parish, Rossland


Rev. Greg Powell, Minister

Castlegar United Church


Rev. Michael Hare, Minister

Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge

Serving Rossland, Salmo, Beaver Valley and Trail



Montana Burgess, Community Organizer

West Kootenay EcoSociety

(t)250-354-1909 (m) 250-509-0184

206-507 Baker St Nelson BC v1l 4j2