Columbans pray and march to protect biodiversity

The Columban Justice, Peace and Ecology team joined Laudato Si' Animators, Westminster Justice and Peace and others in the ‘Restore Nature Now’ march for the environment on 22nd June in London.

The Columban group assemble before dispersing to join the march
The Columban group assemble before dispersing to join the march

Joining the Columbans were other Christian organisations and environmental groups such as Green Christian, Friends of the Earth, Surfers against Sewage and various Wildlife Trusts.

People dressed up as stingrays, beavers and giant puppets of threatened bird species headed down Park Lane towards Westminster. Many banners called for a new law that will halt and reverse nature’s destruction by 2030 – The Climate and Nature Bill. There was concern that nature and the climate have not featured sufficiently during election campaigning. Some 350 organisations participated, and numbers were upwards of 80,000 people.

The rally at Parliament Square heard speeches from many prominent individuals, including naturalist Chris Packham, actress Dame Emma Thompson, and musician/water campaigner Feargal Sharkey. Environmental issues such as the diminishing of species, climate change and the pollution of rivers were highlighted and there was a call for our next government to set up bold plans to make urgent policy changes towards environmental sustainability.

Before the march, Christians packed an ecumenical service at the Jesuit Church at Farm Street with the theme ‘Restore Nature Now’. The Canticle of creation by Saint Francis of Assisi was read and Pope Francis’ prayer, Laudato Si’, was recited at the service. Fr. Dominic Robinson SJ, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace, gave the final blessing. Christians were urged to work and pray together for Justice, Peace and Environmental Justice.

James Trewby, who was there with his family, said afterwards: “It was a privilege to join the service and march with members of the Columban Justice, Peace and Ecology team as well as with family and friends. The UK must do better – for our sake, for future generations, and for our sisters and brothers around the world!”

Fr. Joe Ryan of Westminster Diocese, who is a consulter to the Columban JPE team, said, “It was a wonderful and emotional experience to see so many like-minded people marching together in order to save our planet.” They wanted, “to impress on our leaders and politicians that action is needed now.”

Jules Robinson, a Green Christian trustee, expressed the passionate feelings of many Christians attending: “I felt overwhelmed by the respect, love and peace for each other and every creature of the earth. Starting off with a wonderful service, the Lord then blessed us with great weather, inspiring and friendly people and joy. I felt God’s presence in our midst. Despite the plight of nature, the bringing together of so many people creatively expressing themselves and feeling the same passions brought me, personally, renewed hope.”

A passion for justice, a desire for peace and a concern for the integrity of God’s creation are all essential to the living out of the Gospel. They are not optional extras, but core components of Christian faith, and Justice, Peace and Ecology has been central to Columban mission since 1976.

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The Columban commitment to living out Gospel values of justice, peace and care for creation can be seen everywhere we live and work. Read updates from our missionaries here in Britain and around the world who, through education, media, advocacy and campaigning, are promoting our four priority areas, migration, environmental justice, economic justice and peace.

Read our updates here