RWE and BlackRock: Stop Destroying Churches and Communities with Coal Mines

The Catholic church St. Lambertus, also called the “Dome of Immerath” was already demolished by RWE in 2013 to further exploit the area for coal.

This weekend is the 1st Sunday of Advent for Christians around the world, marking the beginning of the church year and anticipation of Jesus’ birth. 

But for the three Catholic churches around Keyenberg, it is their end. They will all be deconsecrated. Desecrated, really. For a coal mine. 

I am sad and outraged.

The region where these churches sit is on top of one of Europe’s largest coal deposits, the Garzweiler coal mine. Lützerath and Keyenberg are slated for destruction in the coming months as the mine continues to advance.

If mined and burned, this coal would make it impossible for Germany to meet its 1.5°C climate commitment, according to the German Institute for Economic Research. 

The village of Keyenberg, with the massive Garzweiler coal mine in the background. The mine has already swallowed 20 villages.

The German multinational firm RWE (the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe in 2018), with financing from BlackRock (the world’s largest asset manager), is exploiting the entire area. The Garzweiler mine has already swallowed 20 villages. Yes – 20.

This Sunday, November 28, 2021 the local Catholic parish will officially desecrate the 3 village churches of Keyenberg, Kuckum and Berverath. They will remove all ritual objects, the tabernacle, communion vessels, the altar. Then the keys of those 3 church buildings will go to RWE. 

The press is silent about this. But we cannot stay silent.

RWE uses massive machinery, typical for the coal industry, to extract coal from the ground.

A local grassroots religious movement called “Kirche(n) im Dorf lassen” (Leaving the churches in the villages), in Germany, is calling attention to the tragedy and injustice of the demolition of villages and their churches on the edge of the biggest European source of CO2.  We stand with them.

They actively campaigned against this destruction and against climate destruction through fossil fuels. We support them, wholeheartedly.

Our multi-faith GreenFaith community in Germany will show solidarity with people of faith in Keyenberg as they say goodbye and mourn the loss of their churches this Saturday, November 27.  Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Christians will share prayers.

Will you join us?

Please – share your prayers and support on Twitter by using the hashtag #KirchenDenMenschen. This weekend, your prayers will be shown publicly in the villages.  Make them count! 

GreenFaith made it clear in our statement before COP26 that “Financing must end immediately for new fossil fuel infrastructure.” In mid-October, dozens of courageous Jewish youth and rabbis prayerfully blockaded the entrance to BlackRock’s New York headquarters, calling on the firm’s Jewish CEO to abide by his religion’s values and to stop supporting new fossil fuel projects.

Like the Garzweiler coal mine.

As a Christian, Advent is a time when I prepare myself, morally and spiritually, to welcome Christ into my life at Christmas. My prayer is that our leaders will make the moral commitments – ending fossil fuel projects and rapidly scaling renewable energy projects – that are required to protect the future of life.

Thus, let us pray and act together.

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