More than 4,500 Catholic churches and schools here in England and Wales have switched to renewable gas and electricity supplied by British Gas in one of the UK’s largest combined green energy contracts.
The announcement came as Pope Francis praised young people’s commitment to environmentalism and green causes and urged Catholics to go green and “to respect nature, God’s creation”.
Pope Francis established the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation in 2015, to be celebrated every year on 1 September. He dedicated the period from 1 September to 4 October (the feast day of St Francis of Assisi) as a Season of Creation.
The English and Welsh Catholic Church’s new green energy policy, managed by its energy procurement group, Inter-diocesan Fuel Management (IFM), will cover 2800 churches from 20 of the 22 Catholic dioceses in England and Wales, including Westminster, Nottingham and Plymouth Cathedrals.
The contract also covers more than 2,200 schools, care homes and community centres across the country.
It makes the Catholic Church in this country one of the largest single consumers of green gas certificates based on annual volume – the equivalent of supplying the annual needs of more than 20,000 UK households.
It will remove 32 ktCO2e of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of taking over 21 000 cars off the road.
In his message for last Sunday’s World Day of Prayer for Care and Creation Pope Francis urged people to turn away from “consumerist greed…and the illusion of omnipotence, for these are the ways of death.”
He encouraged all Catholics to make simple changes to their lives so that “God’s creation is treated with respect”.
“Too many of us act like tyrants with regard to creation. Let us make an effort to change and to adopt more simple and respectful lifestyles!
“Let us say ‘no’ to consumerist greed and to the illusion of omnipotence, for these are the ways of death.
“Let us inaugurate farsighted processes involving responsible sacrifices today for the sake of sure prospects for life tomorrow.”
“Let us not give in to the perverse logic of quick-profit, but look instead to our common future.
This is a time “to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful.”
He encouraged replacing fossil fuels with clean energy and said many indigenous people can teach the rest of us to live in better relationship with the environment.
“Now is the time,” he said, “to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters, and stewards of creation. Now is the time to repent, to be converted and to return to our roots. We are beloved creatures of God, who in his goodness calls us to love life and live it in communion with the rest of creation.”
Pope Francis praised the dedication of many young people to the environmental cause.
“The young remind us that the earth is not a possession to be squandered, but an inheritance to be handed down. They remind us that hope for tomorrow is not a noble sentiment, but a task calling for concrete actions here and now.
“We owe them real answers,” he said.