Kilmore Bishop attends COP26
Bishop Hayes has responsibility for co-ordinating encyclica ‘Laudato Si’
Bishop of Kilmore Martin Hayes is representing the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference at COP26 in Glasgow.
Conference of the Parties (COPs) are annual global climate summits attended by officials from nearly every country on Earth.
This year the UK, in partnership Italy, is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which runs until November 12.
Bishop Hayes has particular responsibility for co-ordinating the second encyclical of Pope Francis, ‘Laudato Si’, meaning ‘Praise Be’. He is also a member of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Bishops’ Conference.
The Vatican encyclical letter, published in 2015, has the subtitle “on care for our common home”. In it, the pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, and laments environmental degradation and global warming. He further calls for all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action” in the fight against climate change.
Speaking at the weekend, when Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo visited Cavan, Bishop Hayes told parishioners that the “most profound impact” of climate change is being felt by people in poorer and developing countries.
A few weeks back the Holy Father joined scientists and 40 religious leaders to promote climate awareness among decision-makers in their countries.
“[Climate change] is going to have an impact on our young people and upon the future,” Bishop Hayes told those in attendance at St Patrick’s Church in Corlough on Sunday afternoon.
“So it is important that we pray and we support those who are caring for and encouraging us to care for the environment, God’s creation.”
Bishop Hayes expressed the belief that finding solutions to environmental degradation is the most pressing issue of our time, and that the outcome of COP26 may have repercussions for generations to come. While at COP26, the bishop will also attend civil society events, interfaith gatherings and prayer vigils, which will take place around this conference where he intends to advocate for policies relating to climate justice.
However, the Tipperary native admits he finds himself in an “awkward” position.
“I am a farmer’s son, from Tipperary. They’re into their dairying, and into their farming there. As they say, it’s a sticky wicket to be on.
“So I ask for your prayers, because I have great sympathy for the farming community. Yes, there is a link between farming and environmental degradation, but anyhow, it’s not all their fault. Still, somewhere there we need to talk, we need to have a conversation and, in answer to our Gospel, we need to care for our environment as well.”