Speaking in Bergen, Norway at an international conference on Sustainability and Climate in Religion organized by the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, The Church of Norway and The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit offered reflections on “What’s love got to do with it? Climate justice and care for the earth.”
He also reflected on the theme, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” for the upcoming 11th WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, to be held in September 2021.
There is no question that life is threatened, noted Tveit. “It can be destroyed within seconds by the inferno of a nuclear war,” he said. “It is being destroyed slowly, but steadily by climate change and a dramatic loss of biodiversity.”
As he reflected on the situation, Tveit noted that we are the first generation exposed to the climate crisis and the last that can take effective steps to limit the looming catastrophe. “We shall not miss this moment!” he urged. “Analyzing the situation we are facing, we can see how people are frightened.”
And that fear is used for political purposes, Tveit said. “Populists stir up fear of ‘the other’ (xenophobia), often directed against refugees and migrants,” he said. “Their aim is to gain a majority of votes, fishing at the center and the right wing of the political spectrum.”
The interests of dominant groups are protected in this way, he said. “In past and present, such strategies draw attention away from the real threats to life,” Tveit said. “They serve those who resist any change, defending their own power, privilege, and profits.”
But grace opens up the possibility for conversion and transformation towards life, Tveit concluded. “Grace opens the way to change,” he said. “In the power of grace, we can do what is right and what is needed.”