Christians Need “to take climate change very seriously”: Catholic Priest in South Africa

Fr. Stanslaus Muyebe. Credit: Ordo Praedicatorum/Facebook

There is need for Christians to take issues of climate change “very seriously”, a Catholic Priest in South Africa has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of a three-day workshop on Pope Francis Encyclical Laudato Sí “on care for our common home,” the Director of the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) recalled the devastating effects of recent floods in South Africa, and challenged the people of God in the country to “preach the gospel” of the “sacredness of creation”.

“It’s time to take climate change very seriously. We have seen what is happening in South Africa, the floods that we have seen in Durban; we have seen the water scarcity in Eastern Cape,” Fr. Stanslaus Muyebe said in reference to last month’s floods in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province and parts of Eastern Cape.

He added, “I think it is very important as Christians to look at the sacredness of creation, and to preach that gospel, the sacredness of creation, the wonderful things that God has done in our creation, which we are taking for granted.”

In the Wednesday, May 18 interview, the official of JPC explained in reference to creation, “We have been destroying it with consumerism. As Christians in South Africa, we can be at the center of ecological conversion, but not just for us and our families but also for our neighbors to quench atheism.”


Fr. Muyebe urged the people of God in South Africa to change the way they consume water and challenged them to embrace lifestyle change.

He went on to underscore the role of JPC Coordinators in implementing the SACBC Pastoral Plan in their respective Dioceses. Launched in January 2020, SACBC Pastoral Plan guides the three Southern African countries of Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa on the path of evangelization in contemporary times.

Fr. Muyebe said during the May 18 interview, “It has been important for us to empower Dioceses, especially the justice and peace coordinators, so that they are the center of implementing the pastoral plan.”

Making reference to the SACBC season of creation introduced in 2021, the member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans – OP) said, “There are several pillars in the pastoral plan. One of the pillars is the care of creation. And it's very important that the justice and peace coordinators take center stage in implementing that pillar, which is a care of creation.”

The sessions during the three-day workshop of Laudato Si’, Fr. Muyebe said, are meant to empower JPC Coordinators “so that they have the capacity to play” the role of fostering the care of creation. 

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He explained, “Last year our Bishops introduced a celebration of the season of Creation in September. And it was a success, so we would like it this year also to strengthen that celebration; but to strengthen it in such a way that justice and peace coordinators are the ones responsible to implement activities at parish level.”

During the workshop on Laudato Si’ held at Lumko Retreat and Conference Center in Benoni, South Africa, Justice and Peace Coordinators were given a draft manual with guidelines for the implementation of the Care of Creation in their respective Dioceses, Fr. Muyebe told ACI Africa. 

He said that Justice and Peace Coordinators were encouraged to make suggestions based on their experiences in their respective Dioceses before the manual is finalized, approved and printed for circulation.

“We have drafted a manual for Dioceses and Parishes. In some way this workshop is trying to pilot test that manual. Because at the end of our sessions on Thursday (May 19), there will be feedback on that manual; the Coordinators will give feedback, suggest things that need to be improved, etc.”, said Fr. Muyebe.

He added, “We are hoping to launch the manual during the season of creation. In the meantime, we will continue to have workshops in the various Dioceses to get their feedback, things that we need to improve, things that they think we should emphasize and also get feedback from various shareholders, the religious, and other people.”


In a separate interview, Bernadette Crewe-Brown who facilitated the three-day workshop encouraged JPC Coordinators to register on the Laudato Si’ action platform website and to make use of the SACBC pastoral plan section on the care of creation.

Ms. Crewe-Brown invited the people of God to take part in the planned Laudato Sí week saying, “Well, as we know, Laudato week started seven years ago when Pope Francis launched the Laudato Encyclical. And so, every year, it's a time for us to celebrate.”

She said, “Celebrate with the events, celebrate with your family, celebrate in your Parishes, Bishops and Priests preach about it in your homilies next week, that it is the time of celebration. And we know that time of celebration is the time when God rested.”

We have this Encyclical; we have the action that's happening. And let's just acknowledge that it is the Laudato Si week”, said Ms. Crewe-Brown during the May 18 interview with ACI Africa.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.