by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When and why did you decide to be a Capuchin?
Father Stephen: I officially joined the Capuchin postulancy on 3rd October 2017. My home parish- St. Peter Clavers Lwak happens to be the mother house of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Ann and through Sr. Beatrice Jane I came to Know the Capuchin Friars. At that time, there were only diocesan and consolata priests among the natives of my parish therefore I opted to be different.
Gordon: Where are you currently stationed and what are your current responsibilities?
Father Stephen: I reside at our Custodial Curia in St. Jude Westlands, Nairobi and work as the Assistant of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON).
Gordon: What initially interested you in climate challenges?
Father Stephen: Our founder St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Ecology and from that I developed interest. However, with the continued climate crisis I have found more reasons to champion for climate justice after receiving training from Laudato Si Movement Animators Training and reading of the papal encyclical- Laudato Si. I am also a member of the Capuchin JPIC Africa.
Gordon: What are the most pressing climate challenges and what can we do to reduce them?
Father Stephen: Drought and Floods. Weather patterns have changed in the recent past and this has lead to change in the rainfall patterns too, either long seasons of drought or long seasons of rains, hence causing food insecurity. Some of these have been caused by human activities such as logging and others naturally.
Gordon: What is the United Nations doing to reduce climate challenges?
Father Stephen: The UN through United Nations Environment Programme has put forward many activities towards caring climate change. From 6-18th November 2022, the UN will hold the 27th Conference on Parties COP27 in Sharm el- sheikh
Egypt to discuss on ways for mitigation and adaptation of Climate Change. In December 2022 the UN will hold the 15th Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biodiversity in Montreal Canada to discuss the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which aims
at finding ways to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. They are also urging individuals, communities and states to take climate actions.
Gordon: What is the Vatican doing to reduce climate challenges?
Father Stephen: The Holy See is in the forefront in the fight towards climate change. In 2015 Pope Francis through the Encyclical Laudato Si, called to all Catholics and all people of Good will to listen to the Cry of Mother Nature and the Cry of the Poor #LS 49. Through this document the Holy See has offered various interventions that can be used to mitigate the climate change. The Holy See through the years has been attending the UN organized meetings on Climate Change and has also offered both religious and scientific solutions to issues concerning the environment. On 4th October, the Holy See made history by becoming members to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and will be attending COP27 for the first time as party members to this Convention. The Vatican has also stopped the selling of any single-use plastic items on its territory.
Gordon: Do we as individuals have a moral responsibility to help reduce climate challenges? Please explain why.
Father Stephen: Yes we all have a moral responsibility emanating from the creation story in Genesis, where God commanded humanity to be stewards of creation. This duty was not given to us to be bosses but to take be caretakers of creation. Our activities as individuals when accumulated leads to climate injustices. For example, when we litter the streets with plastic water bottles or sweet wrappings at the end of the day these litter go in to the drainages and into the rivers and other water bodies causing pollution hence affecting the climate.