Spring is here although warm days are still reluctant visitors. Every week more old friends appear and bring anticipation of who is going to show up next—crocuses and robins have arrived, how much longer until tulips and rhubarb? This season of new life as Easter approaches makes it easy to appreciate Pope Francis’ call “to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory”” (#69)
Human activity is diminishing this blessing. Around the world these other living beings are shrinking in number or disappearing at an alarming rate. This is linked to human activity—we have not learned how to share our common home with our family of fellow living creatures.
We live as though we have forgotten that we are part of an amazingly diverse and complex web of life. Each creature contributes some role towards its ecosystem’s ability to provide the services which sustain all life, such as producing food, oxygen and clean water. The well-being of this web of life, which includes us, depends on the well-being of its biodiversity or variety of living species. Scientists, environmentalists, the Catholic Church and others are all raising awareness about the growing threats to biodiversity.
Ecological Conversion in Action: Manifesto of Youth at World Youth Day 2019 for the Care of the Common Home
Catholic youth meeting in January in Panama City, Panama, for World Youth Day, produced a manifesto, and launched the “Laudato Si’ Generation”, a new network of young Catholics committed to care for our common home.
“We, young Catholics from World Youth Day in Panama, would like to raise our hearts and minds in praise, joy and gratitude for the beautiful gift of our beloved “sister Mother Earth” in the lovely words of St Francis. At the same time we are painfully aware, as Pope Francis reminded us, that “our common home is falling into serious disrepair” (Laudato Si’61). Convinced that “all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation” (LS 14), we call on everyone, ourselves first, to act with urgency to protect our planet and the poorest and most vulnerable people.”
Lorene DiCorpo recalls growing up in Sudbury many decades ago, and how, daily, she could smell and taste the sulphur dioxide in the air emitted by the neighboring mining company, Inco Nickel. On cloudy days the sky would be tinged with yellow. It was well known that miners developed emphysema and asthma and that the land had been reduced to non-fertile clay. “As a child, I thought this was just the way things were,” she says.
The United Nations COP 24 climate change negotiations in Poland (Dec. 2-15) ended in overtime on Saturday. While some progress was made, the Paris Agreement rulebook adopted by countries does not respond with the urgency outlined in the Global Warming of 1.5°C Report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Earlier this fall a new Eco Ministry began at Holy Cross parish in Toronto. They have planned projects that focus on reducing waste and enriching the natural environment at the parish such as establishing new native pollinator and vegetable gardens. On December 2nd they held a Breakfast Social Fundraiser with a soup and bake sale and silent auction. A table was set up where people could donate an unwanted item and pick up another item in exchange.
I dropped in at their busy event to hear more about their initiative and enjoyed some food and coffee—served on real dishes and not disposables. Great Advent gathering!
The ecumenical Season of Creation runs from September 1st to October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and invites Christians around the world to pray and care for creation. Several resource suggestions are offered below to help with planning a Season of Creation event. They can be adapted for other times as well.
Laudato Si’ Conference photo courtesy of Patrick Nicholson
An international conference took place on July 5-6, 2018 in Vatican City to celebrate the third anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ letter on care for our common home. The conference aimed to communicate “a sense of deep urgency and profound concern for the precarious state of our common planetary home”. The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development organized the conference in collaboration with partners such as the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Representatives of churches, religions, civil society, scientists, politicians, economists, grassroots movements, and others gathered to dialogue and develop some participatory lines of action.
Guest post by Marlie Whittle, St. Anselm’s Ecology Group in Toronto.
GSS Certification Team
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote an encyclical called Laudato Si: Praise be to You. This encyclical was a call to environmental action from the highest authority of the Catholic Church. Since 2015, many Catholic orders, churches and people have found different ways to respond to this call. I have had the privilege of being on St. Anselm’s Church’s ‘Green Team’ for over a year. We call ourselves St. Anselm’s Ecology Group and in the past three years our team has grown from two parishioners to 13!
Last month, John Dorner, our team member and volunteer with the Archdiocese of Ottawa, was invited to provide a reflection on the encyclical of Pope Francis entitled Laudato Si’ – On Care of our Common Home. This was forKitchissippi United Church. Below are some highlights from the reflection.
So, what is an encyclical? An encyclical is a letter about a critical issue that is sent to all the Catholic bishops and pastors in the world, and which is posted on the Vatican website so that it is accessible to everyone. This encyclical is different. It is very special in that Pope Francis is actually reaching out to everyone! As he states in the encyclical, “I urgently appeal for anew dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.We need a conversation that includes everyone since the environmental changes we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all… Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation.”