Cairns Bishop calls for more action to protect the Reef

Cairns Bishop James Foley weighs into the global debate on the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns Bishop James Foley has called for the Church to revise and extend a powerful 2004 pastoral letter signed by Queensland's bishops calling for action to save the Great Barrier Reef.

In 2004, Bishop Foley was one of five Catholic bishops of Queensland to sign a pastoral letter "Let the Many Coastlands Be Glad", emphasising the shared ecological responsibility for the Great Barrier Reef and the need for action to ensure its survival.

They identified global warming, sediment run-off from land, sewerage outflow, deteriorating water quality, and over-fishing as key issues.

The Great Barrier Reef is described in that letter as "a sublime gift and blessing from God".

"Care for the environment and a keener ecological awareness have become key moral issues for the Christian conscience," the letter reads.

Bishop Foley said the need for protection of the Reef is greater than ever.

"That is now dramatically obvious," Bishop Foley said, referring to the latest reports of extensive coral bleaching.

Bishop Foley said he would raise the protection of the reef and need to revise the pastoral letter on the Great Barrier Reef at the next meeting of Queensland bishops.

"It significantly affects the people of Queensland and their livelihoods," he said. "It's a matter of stewardship, to protect the reef. It's a delicate, gentle system."

Calls from Church leaders and environmental advocates coincide with the anniversary of the release of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment titled Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home.

In it, Pope Francis wrote that "climate change is a global problem with serious implications, environmental, social, economic, political, and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day."

This article originally appeared in The Catholic Leader and is reproduced on TropicNow with the kind permission of editor Matt Emerick.