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Church agencies rush aid to thousands of Philippine flood victims

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By Catholic News Service

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (CNS) -- Church agencies teamed with international aid groups and the Philippine government to assist tens of thousands of people left homeless in northern Mindanao by flash flooding caused by an intense tropical storm that left at least 650 people dead and hundreds more missing.

The country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that about 135,000 people in 13 provinces were affected by Tropical Storm Washi, which unleashed floods and landslides as people slept in their homes across northern Mindanao late Dec. 16.

Bishops suggest Catholics confess sins against environment

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The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council of southern India Dec. 15 announced that Catholics should include sins against the environment when they visit the confessional.

"Any exploitation of nature amounts to sins against God,” said Fr. Stephen Alathara, spokesman for the bishops, adding that the directive would be included in a pastoral letter to be circulated among dioceses in February next year.

Read the full story: Confess sins against nature: Kerala Church

Youth speak out in Durban: Get it done! (video)

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The images of attendees you usually correspond to a United Nations conference are distinguished, veteran delegates, serious in stature and mood.

The recent U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, hosted plenty of people fitting this description, but they were joined by a growing faction of passionate young activists.

Garnering much attention in the final days of the conference was Anjali Appadurai, a Canadian student at the College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Me., and a member of the youth delegation at the U.N. summit. A representative in Durban to COA student group Earth in Brackets, she was selected to address the climate summit at a plenary Dec. 9.

Remember compassion this holiday season

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What if more of us were to go out of our way to do a compassionate deed, something out of the ordinary? Think how much better off our planet and all beings would be.

Case in point: On Sunday morning, I was driving down North High Street in Columbus, Ohio, on an errand. Abruptly, traffic came to a halt. Four blocks ahead, blue and red flashing lights from police cruisers blinked. What was wrong? A fender-bender?

Crowds of people rushed toward the commotion. Fuming, I turned down a side street, hoping to get around the traffic delay.

After winding through a series of little neighborhoods that ended up going nowhere, I turned toward High Street once again, hoping the way was clear. But no, there were those police cruisers again. Now I could see why. They were serving as escorts for marchers carrying an assorted group of flags representing Mexico and other countries as well as large banners depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe. One kid had made his own version, decorating the border around the lady with an oval frame of intricate curly-cues, cut from a humble brown box.

Youth, indigenous Canadian activists protest at climate talks

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A group of youth and indigenous activists from Canada presented delegates attending the U.N. climate talks in Durbin, South Africa, with souvenir gift bags containing samples of fake tar sand, reports Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Kandi Mossett, native energy and climate campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network told Democracy Now! on Dec. 6 that the tar sands extraction process is energy and water intensive and destroys the landscape. The production site is the size of Florida.

"It is the largest catastrophic project that I am aware of on earth right because of the amount of emissions that it kicks up into the atmosphere," Mossett said.

Take the pledge, asks Catholic climate group

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On Monday, NCR presented part one of an interview with Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. He responded to the current United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa, and spoke to the Catholic response to the international talks and climate change.

Today, NCR provides part two of our interview with Misleh. Among the topics are the efforts of the Coalition in regard to climate change, the impact on developing countries and ways individuals can limit their carbon footprint.

As the science becomes more alarming, politicians slow to act

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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA — Three years ago a claim in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - stating that glaciers in the Himalayas were receding faster than in any other part of the globe and could disappear completely by 2035 – was seized upon by climate deniers as an example of the questionable science behind climate change. The claim was made by an Indian glaciologist in a June 1999 article in New Science magazine. The data had not been peer-reviewed.

Focus on money destroys environment, says cardinal

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By Catholic News Service

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA (CNS) -- Excessive focus on money is destroying the environment and dehumanizing people, said Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis.

Religious communities have a duty to call attention to the importance of the human person, who is "at the center of creation," he said while international leaders were debating the extension of legal limits on the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

Catholic climate group reacts to Durban climate talks

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Climate talks in Durban, South Africa, entered their second week today, with negotiations producing little, to date.

Historically, more serious discussions materialize in the second week, but expectations around the world remain timid toward significant resolutions.

Among those attentively following the Durban climate talks is the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. Launched in 2006, the Coalition works to share the U.S. bishops’ statement on climate change, through providing resources and through various partnerships.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Coalition, spoke with NCR about the Durban climate conference, as well as the conference’s importance to the Catholic community.

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