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Rev Bhagwan during Climate Change and the Duties of Religious Leaders Summit – Kyoto Japan

Kyoto, Japan
04th August, 2022

Religious leaders have been urged to to not stop working, not stop praying, not stop calling for justice for creation in the face of the Climate Crisis. PCC General Secretary, Rev James Bhagwan made this call at a Symposium on the “Climate Change and the Duties of Religious Leaders” yesterday, to mark the 35th Anniversary of the Religious Summit Meeting on Mt. Hiei, Kyoto, Japan.

The Interreligious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace was inspired by the Interreligious Prayer Gathering for World Peace’ at Assisi in 1986 which was advocated by late Pope, His Holiness Saint John Paul II. Organised by Religions for Peace Japan and the Tendai Buddhist Denomination.

Sharing on the Pacific experience of Climate Change and continuing unsustainable development and extractive industries on land and in the ocean, Rev. Bhagwan highlighted the importance of ecologically oriented spirituality and indigenous knowledge and wisdom, expressed by Pacific Churches as “Reweaving the Ecological Mat” , echoing Pope Francis’ call for an “Ecological Conversion”.

He called on religious leaders to use “our collective energy, which, we in the Pacific call “mana, ” to bring about the global transformation, that places biodiversity at the centre of development, affirms spirituality, indigenous knowledge and praxis on living in harmony with the environment and places the wellbeing of all ahead of profit for a few.”

“Let us pray for not only wisdom but personal and political courage for those who must make and keep their commitments to achieve 1.5 degrees, net zero carbon emissions, and climate financing to assist the most vulnerable who are the least culpable.”

Rev. Bhagwan also highlighted that the Pacific Conference of Churches is supporting the call for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on Climate Change and Human Rights; a call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and for Ecocide to be recognised at the International Criminal Court.

The Prayer for World Peace which followed the Symposium and was held on the summit of Mt. Hiei, was marked by severe thunderstorms, which Rev. Bhagwan reflected on during the post-prayer press conference as reminder to Japanese religious leaders of the urgency needed to address the climate crisis.

“You don’t have to only look at the Pacific. Yes we are at the forefront of the climate emergency and have been dealing with and speaking out on climate change for decades, but every country around the world is experiencing the extreme weather caused by climate change now. We must act now.”

Since 1987 religious leaders in and outside of Japan gather at Mt. Hiei on August 4th of every year and have continued to hold this gathering to offer sincere prayers for world peace. Mt. Hiei, considered the mother mountain of Japanese Buddhism.

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