We are encouraged not only to value our local environment and work to protect it, but also to be concerned for regional and global issues. The news about the climate crisis and species loss is alarming but we, as ‘People of Hope’, can demonstrate our faith by caring for God’s creation, not only in the way we live but also in efforts to change policies and attitudes to protect the wider environment.
Pope Francis in Laudato Si calls on us all to do what we can:
‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. (LS #217)
‘There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions (LS #211)
‘Along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. (LS #231)
At the start of September 2021 Pope Francis joined Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in issuing a radical call for cooperation and commitment to combat climate change.
“As world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow in November to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and reflect on what are the choices we all have to make. Therefore, as leaders of our Churches, we urge everyone, whatever their faith or worldview, to try to listen to the cry of the earth and the poor, examining their own behaviour and committing themselves to make significant sacrifices for the good of the earth. that God has given us,” the church leaders say.
They condemn those who have maximised their own interest at the expense of future generations. “By focusing on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including nature’s abundance, are consumed for short-term benefit. Technology has opened up new possibilities for progress, but also for the accumulation of unlimited wealth, and many of us behave in ways that show little concern for other people or for the limitations of the planet. Nature is resilient, yet delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it. Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn with determination, to head in the opposite direction. We must pursue generosity and fairness in the ways we live, work and use money rather than selfish gain.”
The people who suffer the most catastrophic consequences of such abuses are the poorest on the planet and who had less responsibility for causing them. “We serve a God of righteousness, who delights in creation and creates each person in His image, but who also listens to the cry of the poor. Therefore there is an innate call within us to respond with anguish when we see this devastating injustice.”
The Global Catholic Climate Movement aims to activate the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to tackle the climate crisis. Among the the ways it does this is by running an online course to educate and empower people to bring the Laudato Si Encyclical to life, enabling them to inspire others – in parishes, schools and in the world at large – to engage in dialogue and action on the current environmental crisis.
A wide range of resources is made available and participants are invited to practise reflective and prayerful experiences, alone and with others.
The course is ongoing, and you can enrol on the Animators’ website. It lasts for five weeks with weekly zoom webinars from experts on the Laudato Si themes and opportunities to connect with others.
Remember that our impact upon the environment is local as well as global. We can concern ourselves with visual impact, noise abatement, waste management, water conservation, repurposing and recycling and many other things that display a concern to care of all that is created
Laudato Si Animators UK are a group of like-minded people, mainly Catholics, who have graduated from the Animators’ course and work to
promote the messages in Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Si‘.
They are active in our diocese.
of the Lord’s prayer
Holy is your name.
May your wisdom shape our understanding of life
So that we may embody your healing presence.
Feed us this day on the truth of your love
So we may forgive ourselves
And reach out to others.
Protect us from wanting more than we need
So that repair of the earth may begin.
Open our minds to the wonders of your creation
And our dreams to sustainable ways of being.
Open our hands to the justice of sharing
And our lives to renewal of community.
For all time and space is yours
And this moment and place
Speaks to your glory.
Pat Pierce (From ‘Seeds of Hope’ by Celia Deane-Drummond).
The Global Healing Initiative is the response of the Catholic Church in England and Wales’ to the encyclical Laudato Si, in which the Pope calls for dialogue and action concerning the care of our common home.
All are urged to make changes to their lifestyles to combat environmental degradation. As part of the Initiative, our Bishops’ Conference has produced two films which can be viewed here.
A statement from the US Bishops for the 2021 Season of Creation notes that we must consider highly complex situations. Environmental problems can be “difficult to understand” since they deal with “highly complex scientific and technical interactions between natural phenomena, animal and ecosystem behaviours, and human actions.” Furthermore proper understanding the issue is made even more difficult due to the “complexity of communication and globalisation in the modern world,” including on social media.
We need to form robust consciences and learn to wisely discern complex moral problems. Pope St. John Paul II warned in 1990 of a moral crisis “of which the destruction of the environment is only one troubling aspect.” Pope Francis expanded on the theme in his encyclical Laudato si’ which calls on Catholics to cultivate an “ecological conscience, to enable us to see clearly, judge rightly, and act ethically when it comes to the care of ‘our common home’.”
The bishops suggest that “one of the underlying drivers of our current crisis, both moral and ecological, is a radical world view that has placed excessive trust in the power of mankind and disregard for God.” We can overcome these challenges through a “well-formed reason that can integrate knowledge and information from different secular perspectives. … It is a mistake to think that faith alone is sufficient for the Christian life, especially when it comes to complex moral problems that require both faith and reason.”
A deep and well-formed faith, said the Bishops, can help us meet the “countless challenges” facing us without becoming discouraged or despondent.
A recent UN report on climate change (AR6 IPCC) is a source of reliable information to help Catholics “exercise our ecological conscience and integrate the best available science with the truths of the Catholic faith.” The report offers bad news about humanity’s past climatological record, mixed news about the present with some progress being made toward reaching the Paris goals, and “hopeful” news about the future. It rules out the most extreme and terrifying scenarios, settling on a future with a stable, albeit warmer, climate.
We must pray in hope for the future and in hope, “placing our trust in God and recognising that we are entrusted as stewards of creation, we pray for all climate scientists, experts in technology and policy, and those on the front lines of climate mitigation and adaptation.”
In conclusion, the Bishops invite the US Congress to address environmental problems, “with an emphasis on infrastructure investment” and thy encourage all Catholics to build upon the ecological actions for the 5th anniversary of Laudato si’ and join our Christian brothers and sisters in putting our ecological conscience into practice.