Multi-Religious Response to Social and Environmental Crises
Report on the Religions for Peace Meeting in Manresa, Spain – Nov. 27-30, 2022 – by Dr. Evelyn Zentner de Falck.
On November 27-30 I was invited to attend a seminar organized by the Mayor of Manresa in Spain, and Religions for Peace. The invitation was to commemorate the 500th anniversary of San Ignacio de Loyola’s sojourn to the city of Manresa. The theme was “At a Crossroads: An Intergenerational and Multi-Religious Response to the Social and Environmental Crises.”
I was the only Jewish and Latin American woman invited to the conference so, as you can imagine I was very proud of being there. We had four days of mixed activities. The first day, started with the inauguration ceremony of the reunion and in the afternoon began with gathering the multi-religious leaders to walk together on a historic interfaith pilgrimage through the Camino Ignaciano on an 8 km walk. It was a very emotional and solemn activity.
The second day was full of speakers, especially a group of young men and women who were given the floor and they introduced their social work to the people present. It was very interesting.
The third day we had speakers in the morning and in the afternoon we made a visit to Montserrat Cathedral which is about 1 hour away by bus from Manresa. It was a very interesting visit.
The fourth day we had speakers (including myself) in the morning and in the afternoon we went to Barcelona to visit the Sagrada Familia Church created by Gaudi. In the evening we had the closing session.
I prepared a speech, since I was invited to be speaker in one of the sessions where I emphasized our Jewish background and made a proposal to the floor. However, I did not find any positive response from the president of RfP, which made me very sad. The proposal was that we reunite all the Agreements that we have signed throughout the years, by which many good ideas have come out but are not implemented; it all remains on paper. Many people who attended the meeting congratulated me for my initiative, however I do not think it is going to happen.
A declaration, “Pact of Manresa” for the event was signed and it says:
The Manresa 2022 Pact: Multi-religious and Multi-sectoral Global Pact for the Development of Resilient, Sustainable, Safe, and Inclusive Cities
We, members of faith communities from across the world, including representatives of Indigenous spiritual traditions, as well as academic experts on climate change and representatives of the City Council of Manresa, gathered in the city of Manresa for the forum “At a Crossroads: A Multi-religious Intergenerational Response to the Social and Environmental Crises”, catalyzing a multi-religious and multi-sectoral intergenerational movement for inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities (SDG 11) under the stewardship of Religions for Peace, the Manresa City Council, and Religions for Peace Spain.
The Manresa 2022 Pact is the result of a journey that began with the Lindau Conference of the World Council of Religious Leaders on “Faith and Diplomacy: Generations in Dialogue” highlighting the power of multi-religious and intergenerational collaboration. This journey continued with the Earth Day event “Love and Respect the Earth: Multi-Religious Collaboration to Address the Climate Crisis” and the COP27 side event “Realizing Ambition through Ethical, Intergenerational and Multi-sectoral Responses to Climate Crises”.
In honor of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a pilgrim who sojourned in Manresa 500 years ago and taught the power of inner transformation, together we walked along the Camí Ignasià (the Ignatian Way). This multi-religious pilgrimage experience allowed us to collectively pause and consider the world around us and our place within it. It served as a reminder of Saint Ignatius’s invitation to a process of personal growth and to live in peace and unity.
Over three days of meetings, debates, reflections and workshops in the city of Manresa, we reached a shared, transformative understanding on the spiritual urgency of caring for our long-suffering common home, the Earth, which nourishes and sustains all humans, all sentient beings and the entire community of life. As followers of diverse traditions, beliefs and practices, we share the Manresa Pact as a new vision for living in harmony with each other and with the Earth.
We are at a crossroads. Climate change is fueling social and environmental crises that affect cities where most of the world’s population live, including refugees and those displaced by the effects of climate change. We must create inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities to alleviate the effects of the social and environmental crises that impact everyone, particularly the most vulnerable.
The complexity of the climate crisis and its effects calls for a multi-sectoral, interreligious, intergenerational and gender-sensitive approach. This will require a transformation of our perspectives on the environment and a review of the coherence our consumptive lifestyles with a sustainable environment. Motivated by the ethical principles and values of our faiths’ teachings and by cooperative and visionary leadership, we recognize the key role of local and global religious actors including religious leaders, women, men and youth as agents committed to transformation.
The effects of the climate crisis on youth are particularly acute because this generation will inherit a planet plagued with socio-economic and environmental challenges and injustices. We recognize the critical role of youth leadership as part of a global response to solve the climate crisis, and we commit to walking alongside the young leaders that will enable us all to work in the present to build a better future.
As a transformation process, we commit to:
- Continue this transformative work, in solidarity, each of us, well beyond this meeting, from our respective communities, regions, and nations.
- Ensure more intergenerational, interreligious, and multi-sectoral exchanges for social development and innovation to address inequality and discrimination so that all communities can prosper from justice and equity in inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities.
- Reflect on our private and community consumption and the ways our personal and collective actions can contribute to alleviating pollution and climate change and create more humane spaces within cities.
- Promote awareness that natural resources are finite, that actions to protect the environment must be balanced with market dynamics, that having more is not always better, and that without peace in our hearts, there cannot be an integral transformative ecology.
- Actively reach out to diverse media and other social agents to promote truthful, fair and evidence-based information on the effects of climate change and aid the process of transformation towards conscious and responsible lifestyles.
- Work with national and local governments, including cities, in a multi-sectoral approach to achieve nationally determined commitments.
With these commitments in mind, we advocate for the following actions:
- Carrying out annual climate improvement actions in our cities.
- The inclusive participation of citizens and community member in the development of sustainable infrastructures in cities.
- Implementing holistic projects that promote and protect the health and wellbeing of all life, based on the values of justice, inclusion, and comprehensive ecological responsibility.
- Publishing and sensitizing people on the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities throughout the world.
- Incorporating environmental education material into religious educational institutions
- Establishing a multi-religious, multi-sectoral, intergenerational, and gender-sensitive virtual learning hub for sharing best practices and information to create more inclusive, sustainable, and secure societies.
And for evidence of common recognition, we signed the Manresa 2022 Pact, on 30 November, with the following people and institutions, connected with the Mother Earth and in communion with all other beings.”
At the end I must say that it was a good meeting and more so because we, as Jews, are present in these important venues.
Pictured: Evelyn Zentner de Falck (center) walking with other delegates