Wesley Cocozello of the Columban Justice, Peace and Ecology team in Washington introduces Podcast 11 by pointing out that the 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ introduces the notion of ‘Intergenerational Solidarity’ – that the notion of the common good extends to future generations. Wesley highlights that we have seen young people raising their voices on such issues as Climate Change and Biodiversity, being very frank about their anxieties for the future. “The destruction of web of life is having a profound effect on young people,” says Wesley, “and we have a responsibility to listen to them.”
The podcast offers a discussion chaired by Fr. Kurt Zion Pala, a young Filipino Columban based in Myanmar. He leads the Myanmar Laudato Si’ Movement and is the Columban Coordinator for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in Myanmar.
Marylu Vazquez, based in the United States in El Paso, Texas, reports that there
is little attention given in her diocese to the Church’s Social Teaching, although Justice and Peace groups raise such issues as Biodiversity and Climate Change. She has witnessed significant abuse of the land in and around El Paso for personal gain, and the introduction of plants which do not suit the desert landscape. She urges Catholics to “get educated about the principles in Catholic Social Teaching,” feeling strongly that “if you understand CST you understand the essence of your faith and its societal implications.” And to better appreciate biodiversity to go out into the natural world. “I go to the mountains and see the variety of cactus plants and, nearer to home, I notice gardens and the often heavy use of water for grasses,” she says.
Charmine Mukhtiar from Pakistan is a Zoology student and a member of the Columban international Youth Encounter Team. She has seen Biodiversity loss affecting young people and the loss “makes my heart sad.” She takes inspiration from Genesis for humanity to take responsibility, “for restoring and healing Mother Earth”. Charmine favours studying zoology in a practical way and tackling such issues as wasteful consumption of Earth’s resources.
Sefa Tauli, is a Filipino indigenous and another member of the Columban Youth Encounter Team. She reports that being young and indigenous has meant that she is not listened to. She and her people have much to offer on the issue of Biodiversity. Her message is: “Young people – keep learning and believe in yourself because your voice is important.”
Columban missionaries and other church representatives are participating in two critical United Nations meetings of world leaders later this year. They aim to arrive at new targets to tackle climate change and to safeguard nature. These global climate summits – known as COP, standing for ‘Conference of the Parties’ – are COP27 (Conference on Climate Change), taking place in Egypt in November 2021, and COP15 (Conference on Biological Diversity) taking place in Canada in December 2022.