The annual Catholic feast of the patron saint of animals and ecology, St. Francis of Assisi, is held each Oct. 4, when many observances feature blessings of pets and other animals. This year, during the recent Feast of St. Francis, many parishes, schools, colleges and youth groups focused on climate change as part of their events by holding screenings of a new documentary film about climate refugees.
Click above to watch a trailer of the documentary, “Sun Come Up,” which tells the story of the people of the Cartaret Islands, who have been losing their ancestral home because rising South Pacific seas are inundating their shores.
The 2011 Academy Award-nominated film for Best Documentary Short traces the story of the islanders who worked to build relationships with the people of Bougainville, the largest of the Solomon Islands, where the Papua New Guinea Catholic diocese assisted them in relocating to the mainland.
More than 20,000 Catholics in 42 states attended some 300 film screenings, where the movie was viewed among other activities earlier this month, according to the Catholic Climate Covenant site. This group is also encouraging Catholics around the country to take the “St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor” by taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and raise their voices on behalf of the poor.
According to a story in the online National Catholic Reporter, an independent news source, organizers felt the film screening would help to humanize the problem of climate change by showing how people are being affected now, not just plants and animals.
Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, told the Reporter that simple individual and collective acts of ecological stewardship, such as recycling and conserving water and energy – are one way to directly help people like the Carteret Islanders by addressing the root problem of reducing greenhouse gases.
Lisa Hayden is a writer and blogger for The Nature Conservancy
Photo © Djuna Ivereigh / indonesiawild.com (With a shortage of flat, coastal land, people in the Kia community, Arnavon Islands – part of the Solomon Islands – build homes directly over their reef.)
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