African Jesuit Priest Calls on Faith Leaders to “speak to hearts” Regarding Climate Matter

Fr. Charles Chilufya addressing participants during two-day the strategy building workshop that brought together representatives of member and partner organizations of JENA in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss climate justice and integral ecology. Credit: JCAM

The role of faith leaders is “cardinal” in ensuring the conversion of hearts for the good of the environment, the Catholic Priest overseeing the Jesuits Justice Ecology Network Africa (JENA) has said. 

In an interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Charles Chilufya said despite scientific evidence elaborating “greed” as the root cause of the climate crisis, the heart needs to be addressed by faith leaders.

Science has shown us what needs to be changed. Other resources, indigenous knowledge shows us what needs to be changed. We have money, we have the needed resources, but we have greed. The sickness of the earth is coming in the way and here is now where faith people could speak to hearts,” Fr. Chilufya said during the Tuesday, June 14 interview.

The Zambian-born Jesuit who was speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the two-day “strategy building workshop” that brought together representatives of member and partner organizations of JENA in Nairobi to discuss “climate justice and integral ecology” added that the role of faith leaders becomes “cardinal” in speaking to hearts.

“We need to work with business people, several other players and see how we can call for renewal in each one of us and privilege ethics,” the Director of JENA, a department of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) said.


He went on to explain that ethics is not about how to act but it is “about how we can live”.

“Each one of us, whatever tradition we come from, what does it mean for you and for all of us to live well so that we don’t destroy each other,” the Nairobi-based member of the Society of Jesus said.

In the interview, Fr. Chilufya underscored the need to address the climate crisis urgently.

“We are in the face of a crisis that needs an urgent response. We have seen that we started talking about this 50 years ago so we have come together with others that think alike saying that urgent action is needed now,” he said.

Fr. Chilufya regretted the fact while there are sufficient resources that can be used to address the climate crisis, little is being done.

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“We have the resources, the technology, the materials that are needed to make a difference but this is not being done,” he said, and added, “There is a failure in terms of our politics to make decisions, to direct businesses in ways that could protect the planet's activities.”

The Director of the Jesuit entity that “works towards a just, poverty-free and ecologically regenerative Africa where people can unlock their full potential, free from direct, cultural, and structural violence” cautioned against further delays, saying “time is running out”.

“We are already feeling the impact of climate change but there is still time to make the needed changes. They say that before 1972 we were still within the limit but now time is running out and they are giving us 10 to 12 years, like by 2030 if we don’t change things are going to get bad,” he said.

Fr. Chilufya added, “We have the last moments to make a difference, to make changes. We won’t give up; we are men and women of hope and faith. We will keep doing what we can until we save the earth as mandated to us that we take care of creation.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.