by Gordon Nary
Gordon: What initially interested you in climate challenges?
Gabriel: Well, I am a Franciscan (from Francis of Assisi) therefore the care for creation, the concern for it, and God`s searching through it, have always been present in my life. But ever since my first child was born (14 years ago) my concern about the kind of world we are going to leave (LS #160) to the younger ones motivated me to find a more concrete way of praising God in His creation. A few years later, in 2015, the Laudato Si Movement (then the Global Catholic Climate Movement) and the encyclical appeared. Since then I have been actively working to achieve my own ecological conversion and that of my brothers and sisters.
Gordon: What are your primary responsibilities as Director of Communications at Laudato Si Movement in Madrid, Spain?
Gabriel: My main responsibility is to develop a communication strategy that combines the urgency of the climate crisis with the hope that things can change (LS #13). Unlike an environmental group that focuses its strategy on apocalyptic fear, as Catholics, we are called to work in a positive way, confident that our efforts, with God's help, will serve to alleviate the effects of the crisis. Furthermore, in a global Movement like this, I have a responsibility to work in a synodal and balanced way to ensure that all voices are heard, especially those from the peripheries.
Gordon: What are the three primary programs that all countries should act on immediately to address the climate challenges?
Gabriel: I want to answer from the perspective of what the Church, in those countries, should do. Above all, it is to become aware of the crisis, listen to science, and avoid all kinds of ideological bias. Becoming, as the Pope says, painfully aware of the situation we are in (LS #19) and of the challenge we face, is the first step to ecological conversion. The second step is to develop programs that allow people to reflect on how their lifestyles impact the destruction of creation and harm life on earth, especially that of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Lastly, appealing to the conscience of the political leaders of the country so that they legislate protecting nature and pay attention that the transition leaves no one behind. In this sense, all countries are called upon to drastically reduce their carbon footprint by abandoning fossil fuels and opting for renewable and environmentally friendly energies.
Gordon: What role can communities of faith take to address climate challenges?
Gabriel: The role of communities is fundamental. For this reason, from the Movement we have launched the Laudato Si Animators program, to train Catholic leaders to guide their communities on this path. Faith communities are fundamental to our conversion process, we need to feel accompanied, work together, and act in a coordinated manner. The crisis is of such magnitude that it cannot be solved individually, it requires common work. Likewise, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is uniting many communities and organizations around the world to remove their savings from funds that finance this industry. The communities also have a fundamental role in the prophetic denunciation and public pressure for changes in the laws.
Gordon: What impact will the increasing temperatures have upon human life?
Gabriel: The short answer is that even a seemingly slight average temperature rise is enough to cause a dramatic transformation of our planet and will affect seriously human life.
Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. Think about how those disasters are affecting, right now, especially the most vulnerable people, and you will start to understand the dimension of the challenge we are facing. The crisis is here, is not an "apocalyptic forecast", we must act now.
Gordon: Thank you for an insightful interview.