Pilgrims march to demand action on climate change

A group of pilgrims from all over the world is preparing to enter the city of Katowice, Poland, to bring climate disruption to the attention of world leaders meeting for the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24).

The group has walked 1,500 kilometres after setting out from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican two months ago. The walk, known as The Climate Pilgrimage, was the initiative of Yeb Saño and was designed to reproduce a march completed in 2015 for COP21, held in Paris. After starting out at the Vatican on 2 October this year, the group walked to Paris with the blessing of the Pope, while carrying a pair of his shoes, to show the determination of Christians to move the fight against climate disruption forward. Sébastien Dumont is one of the pilgrims joining the group for the final week of the march, scheduled to end on 7 December.

A beekeeper from the Drôme region in France, Mr Dumont, a Catholic and father of seven children, had already walked the first 15 days of the adventure, between St. Peter’s and Assisi.

For Mr Dumont, this climate pilgrimage is a concrete commitment and an integral part of his life of faith.

A member of the Ecologia association which wishes to make the link between ecology and Christian life, Mr Dumont wanted to walk to make people aware of the climate emergency.

“As a Christian, ecology is not an option just like any other,” he said. “With the Laudato si encyclical, Pope Francis shows how much the ecology is an integral model of life.”

Like Pope Francis and Sébastien Dumont, most of the marchers on the pilgrimage, whose numbers range from 10 to 100 persons depending on the stages, relate this commitment to ecology to their faith.

Founder of the pilgrimage, Yeb Saño, feels much the same way. Mr Sano hails from the Philippines, a country directly threatened by climate disruption due to the threat of rising sea levels.

He explained his approach on website, The Climate Pilgrimage, supported by Greenpeace and the Catholic Climate Movement, created following the publication of Laudato si.

“We are carrying an urgent cry for climate justice,” he wrote, adding that the pilgrimage was bearing the teachings of the encyclical on “safeguarding our common home”.

For the climate pilgrims, COP24 needs to result in concrete commitments enabling the attainment of the emissions targets set at COP21 in 2015 in Paris.

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