Swiss Alpine faithful to pray for climate change

11th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Roman Catholics in two southern Swiss Alpine communities want to quit the centennial tradition of praying for the retreat of mountain glaciers.

Geneva – Roman Catholics in two southern Swiss Alpine communities want to give up a centennial tradition of praying for the retreat of mountain glaciers and switch to prayers against climate change instead.

"A lot of ice has melted," parish priest Pascal Venetz told the Swiss news agency SDA on Thursday.

Father Venetz is seeking the approval of Pope Benedict XVI for the change on behalf of his parishioners and an audience for the local bishop is reportedly being arranged in Rome.

Since the end of the 17th century, the faithful in the districts of Fiesch and Fieschental have blamed the nearby Aletsch glacier, the longest in the Alps, for flooding and prayed for it to melt.

The tradition is augmented by an annual procession on 31 July to a local chapel.

Ironically, their prayers may have been answered.

The now 23-kilometre (14-mile) Aletsch glacier has shrunk by several kilometres over the decades and is regarded by scientists as one of the most visible examples of the impact of global warming in the Alps.

Drought is now regarded as a potential threat.

AFP / Expatica

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