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Paris on the march for climate

2015-12-04 08:06


The recent tragic events in Paris, for security reasons, prevented a major demonstration ahead of the UN Climate conference. No fewer than one hundred and fifty world leaders acknowledged by their personal presence that the outcome of the talks could well determine the future of the planet. In spite of conflicting opinions on global warming, the conference theme is one which affects everybody, now and in future generations.

In his Encyclical, Laudato si, Pope Francis declared, “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”

At the centre of Paris, in the Place de la République a bronze female statue, with an olive branch in her right hand, rests her left hand on an engraved tablet upholding human rights, again a topic very close to the Pope’s heart. Many have argued that a sustainable climate is perhaps the most basic human right of all: without it, life ceases to exist. As he has said, time and again, “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”

Whilst recognising the need for increased safety measures in Paris, people were determined to make their voices heard. Perhaps the ingenious result made a more spectacular statement than their physical presence?

In the Place de la Republique, around the base of the monument which, for France, represents the human desire for “liberty, equality and fraternity”, a huge banner stands above an estimated ten thousand pairs of shoes, gathered in a symbolic rally.

“Paris en marche pour le climat” Paris is on the march for the climate! Shoes of every colour, shape and size, by their emptiness and silence represent their previous owners but also hint at what could be should the world fail to listen and act to “care for our common home”.

Amongst the many thousand pairs of shoes stands one simple well-used black pair. Pope Francis sent his own shoes to remain in solidarity with a world crying out for its people to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

As the Pope prays at the end of his Encyclical, “Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty…  help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.”


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