Green Christians     Issue 45: Spring 2001

Green Christians is the main publication of Christian Ecology Link and exists to debate environmental matters in a Christian context. Please feel free to contribute articles, opinions and letters to the Editor     

Archbishop speaks for the planet
Archbishop George Carey, in his New Year address, called on all of us to be better stewards of the earth. After noting that 'a child born in a wealthy country is likely to consume, waste and pollute more in its lifetime than 50 children born in developing nations', the Archbishop added, 'It is dawning on us that the life of our world is as vulnerable as the children we raise'.

CEL urges caution on phone masts in churches
Church of England proposals to use space in church spires to house telecommunication masts for mobile phones should be treated with great caution by parishes, said CEL. This was in response to a consultation exercise in which local churches were given the opportunity to gain 'preferred status' in a bidding process, by the Archbishop's Council. The Church of England Newspaper (19th January 2001) reported that Tim Cooper, CEL's chairman, had written to the Council saying that 'it is not appropriate for Church of England authorities to stimulate further growth in this sector until further research has allayed health concerns'.

Some Methodist and Roman Catholic church buildings are said to have been fitted with masts. Friends of the Earth (Scotland) has reported that nine local authorities in Scotland have adopted precautionary policies and a further three have announced moratoria until further research is available. Gloucestershire and Kent County Councils have banned masts from school sites.

Churches argue for responsible use of land
Pope John Paul II said that using genetically modified organisms to increase production was contrary to God's will. Speaking last November to an estimated 50,000 farmers from Italy and elsewhere at a special outdoor mass dedicated to farmers, the Pope told them and their colleagues world-wide to 'resist the temptation of high productivity and profit that work to the detriment of the respect for nature'. the pontiff added that 'when (farmers) forget this basic principle and become tyrants of the earth rather than its custodians ... sooner or later the earth rebels'.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference recently expressed its concern over the utilisation of Genetic Engineering technologies in agriculture and food production, and have called on the Government to introduce a five-year freeze on genetic engineering, in support of the campaign launched by the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (source of both items: Norfolk Genetic Information Network).

In South Africa, the work of encouraging peasant farmers to grow organic produce has stepped up to a national level. The Church is the largest landowner in South Africa after the Government (mainly Methodist). The Methodist Church has been auditing its land holdings to see how best they can be used to help the poor. It is considering placing peasant farmers on its own land to produce organic food the market. A feasibility study is currently being undertaken, with Government support (source: Ivan Hague, South Africa).

Tragic death of a new CEL member
It is with sadness that we report the death of a new member, Mr. Gerard le Claire, of Jersey, Channel Islands. Director of Environment for States of Jersey Government, he had just joined us, and been invited to our forthcoming strategy planning meeting. We looked forward to meeting him there, when the sad news came that he had been killed in a helicopter crash in Mongolia, while on a UN mission. His expertise in all fields of environmental policy will be widely missed. Though we never had a chance to benefit by his friendship, we send our condolences to family and friends, and to his Roman Catholic church in St. Helier.

Depleted Uranium horrors must end, say Baptist ministers
The Baptist Times (25 January 2001) has published two letters from ministers calling for an end to the use by the military of Depleted Uranium (DU) ammunition (see more about DU on pages 6 and 17 of this issue).

Prince Charles defends the albatross
The Prince of Wales has called for an end to the overfishing of the world's oceans, and particularly for curbs on the use of increasingly large and powerful boats whose baited lines, up to 50 miles long, are thought to threaten the albatross with extinction (Daily Telegraph, 11th January 2001). The Prince backs the idea of no-fish zones, seen by environmentalists as potentially more reliable than quotas at leaving more adult fish to spawn. He also welcomes the eco-labelling schemes for fish as a way for consumers to make an informed choice.

Church group plants native trees
In November the Bexhill Churches Together, with the co-operation of Rother District Council, planted a millennium copse of 100 indigenous trees on common land. Twenty oaks represent the Christian centuries, and a commemorative plaque confirms the event. Individuals of different churches were given an opportunity to sponsor a tree for 6.

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