Pope Francis, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, David Attenborough, to name a few household names, as well countless scientists, religious leaders and ordinary citizens have all warned us that we need to take urgent action in order to protect our Earth from a sixth mass extinction and dangerous global overheating. Changing weather patterns could spiral out of control, making large parts of Earth uninhabitable and leading to hundreds of millions of climate refugees.
As Christians, we believe that the whole Earth is a miracle of God’s creation and that it is held in every moment by God. This attitude of awe and wonder was evident in the title Pope Francis gave to his 2015 encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ (Praised be). The Pope, quoting St. Francis, spoke with great tenderness about Earth: “Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us” (LS #1). The Pope shows us in ‘Laudato Si’ that care for Creation is integral to our faith.
The Pope also wrote these heart-breaking words: “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the Earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor, she ‘groans in travail’. We have forgotten that are ourselves are dust of the Earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters” (LS 2).
With these words ringing in our ears, six years after ‘Laudato Si’ was first published, the Pope, through the Vatican Dicastery of Human Development, is inviting us to act now and embark on this journey through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Fr. Josh Kureethadam provides excellent 20 minute introduction to what it is all about. (39 mins in)
The goal of this mobilisation of the entire Catholic Church is to create the “critical mass” needed for the radical societal transformation needed in order to protect our planet for future generations. Social scientists tell us that this critical mass is reached with just 3.5% of the population. For society to change, 21% to 25% of the population is needed, but the critical mass is the first goal.
It is hoped that in the climate and ecological emergency, the Pope, the entire Catholic Church, and working together with others, will help achieve the radical global societal transformation that is needed. Everyone is needed for this journey, as Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has said: “Somebody needs to do something and I am somebody”.
Pope Francis has said: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? ….. “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.” (LS #160)
Kate is a Columban Sister who did the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Laudato Si’ Animators course last year. She is also starting a Laudato Si’ parish community gardening group in East London.