Swiss change tactics with prayer to stop glacial ice from disappearing

Anti-Glacier Prayer “Worked Too Well”—Vatican Approves New Ritual.

About 50 people set out on foot from the Swiss village of Fiesch at dawn on July 31. As the sun rose over 13,000-foot (4,000-meter) Alpine peaks, the procession moved slowly up a mountainside and into the cool of a pine forest, stopping at a tiny church.

“Glacier is ice, ice is water, water is life,” intoned priest Toni Wenger, before beseeching God to stop the glaciers high above them from melting.

By changing a few, crucial words in the liturgy, Father Wenger reversed a Catholic ritual that for 350 years had implored the heavens to push back the glaciers.

The Vatican had approved the change as the effects of global warming became all too tangible in the Alps.

“We prayed for the ice to recede, and our prayer worked—too well,” said Herbert Volken, mountain guide and mayor of Conches, the district that includes Fiesch.

In 2009 the local parish council petitioned the Vatican to allow a change in the wording of the prayer. A year later the Holy See agreed, and Volken hopes the new prayer will work as well as the last one.

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Here is a great example of superstition at work. They prayed to stop the destruction of their lands from the glacier’s floods and hazards. Global warming decimated the ice which has receded to such a degree that it’s causing its own hazards such as lack of water and increased fires. So, with the help of nature (aided by the industrial age), the prayer appeared to work. Now, reality bites.

The new prayers will do nothing to reverse global warming. Based on trends the rapid warming—and subsequent melting—will continue for at least the next 30 years. Yet, people will cling to their hope they can exert some effect on the environment by appealing to a higher power.

  10 comments for “Swiss change tactics with prayer to stop glacial ice from disappearing

  1. August 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    A higher power that their own doctrine claims is omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent–and thus, one would have to conclude, immune to such appeals to reconsider its decisions.

  2. xxi_centuryboy
    August 12, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. This is not thinking. This is not thinking.

  3. August 12, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Really? So god listens to the prayers of this small congregation and is causing global climate change in response while ignoring millions of people across the world who are praying for rain?

    Egos grow large in Switzerland.

  4. oldebabe
    August 12, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I don’t doubt this story at all. I’ve seen years and years of people everywhere thinking and doing the most useless (and sometimes hurtful) things because they think/believe there is some higher power somewhere that cares one way or another about them and what they want, and will respond/justify. Disappointment matters not. A perfect example of a total lack of critical thinking.

    BTW, of course climate changes (and will change) on this planet… duh… all of the time, just in geological time. To what extent humans may be contributing currently (so to speak) to any temp changes is the only issue that can be questioned, ISTM, if one feels picky.

  5. Chew
    August 12, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    ^^^ Overwritten Post of the Day.

    To paraphrase: They’re not superstitious; they just believe in magical rituals. Plus a few appeals to pity and a buttton of ignoratio elenchi.

  6. Geoff
    August 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    It’s not limited to Switzerland. The governor here in the State of Georgia resorted to prayer last year to end a drought.

    It hasn’t worked.

  7. xxi_centuryboy
    August 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM


  8. Paul V Ruggeri
    August 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    So the Catholic Church is responsible for global warming? Figures…

  9. August 13, 2012 at 3:06 PM

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