The Summer 2021 edition of Vocation for Justice, the Columban Justice and Peace newsletter, takes the title ‘Prepare the Future’. It is appropriate that it is coming out on Earth Day, 22nd April – an annual event to highlight environmental issues across the planet and demonstrate support for environmental protection. In conjunction with Earth Day 2021 US President Joe Biden will host a global climate summit, staging events to highlight climate action, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, and clean ups that are taking place around the globe.
The Church is playing its part in the global effort, particularly highlighting the links with human well-being. This Vocation for Justice Centrespread looks at the launch of the Laudato Si’ Decade on 24th May, which Columban Sister Kate Midgley introduces. Much of the newsletter is dedicated to Laudato Si’ responses. And we are hearing more and more about preparations for the COP26 in Glasgow in November of this year. Education worker James Trewby highlights the ‘seeds’ being planted with schools and youth to engage with the Season of Creation in September and the Glasgow United Nations climate talks.
Pope Francis has for some time now been referring to the importance of preparing the future for a post-pandemic world. In a recent general audience, he had this to say:
“A small virus continues to cause deep wounds and to expose our physical, social and spiritual vulnerabilities. It has laid bare the great inequality that reigns in the world: inequality of opportunity, of goods, of access to health care, of technology, education. Millions of children cannot go to school, and so the list goes on. These injustices are neither natural nor inevitable. They are the work of man; they come from a model of growth detached from the deepest values. And this has made many people lose hope and has increased uncertainty and anguish. This is why, to emerge from the pandemic, we must find the cure not only for the coronavirus – which is important! – but also for the great human and socio-economic viruses. And, certainly, we cannot expect the economic model that underlies unfair and unsustainable development to solve our problems. A society where diversity is respected is much more resistant to any kind of virus.”
He warned that as a result of our economic model, humanity is close to the limits of the planet, with serious and irreversible consequences such as loss of biodiversity, climate change, rising sea levels and the destruction of tropical forests.
This newsletter notes that 2021 is particularly significant in the on-going efforts to respond to the climate crisis, and we are called to play a critical part. COP26 in Glasgow is the next in the on-going series of United Nations climate conferences. Negotiators and leaders from countries who are members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will come together to discuss action on climate change. COP stands for ‘Conference of Parties’ to this treaty. This meeting was postponed from last year due to the pandemic, and it is vital that it brings about serious and immediate change, ensuring that the world ‘builds back better’ with a commitment to the common good and healing our exploited world. Columban JPIC had a delegation at the Paris talks in 2015, and we are currently planning our engagement with this one.
Fr Augusto Zampini, of the Covid Vatican Commission is quoted in the newsletter, saying: “Conversion is a key part of this – something that ‘can take us to new shores’, with spirituality a guiding force. It allows us to resist the temptation to simply wish to reset or restart our pre-covid lives, at the cost of the environment and the poor, but to look instead to regeneration and new life.”