Columbans are supporting the Young People’s Climate Network Relay to COP26 throughout the Season of Creation. We attended a service at Westminster Cathedral on 6th August. The Lady Chapel had the YCCN boat set up on the altar, bearing fabrics from climate threatened places – pointing to the hundreds of millions of people whose lives are threatened by sea level rise, cyclones, and other climate related disasters. We heard testimonies from three of the walkers and they called on the government to meet and exceed their own climate finance commitments, reinstate the original aid budget and to cancel the debts of poor countries. The pilgrims aim to raise awareness of COP26 and urged participants to spread the word “to look out for us and we would like as many people to join us as possible”.
Columbans will be walking with the group as it heads towards Birmingham, out and about in the countryside and appreciating the natural world that we so often take for granted.
Columbans support the Cafod LiveSimply programme where parishes and schools undertake to live more simply, more sustainably and in solidarity with poor communities. Ellen Teague has assessed one parish and two schools for the award over the past year. One was St. Thomas of Canterbury School in Gillingham, which has an impressive welcome board at the school entrance, featuring a tree and wildlife, demonstrating that care of God’s creation is a feature of the school. In fact, impressive wall displays around the school celebrate the green papal encyclical Laudato Si’, and a prayer garden has been created. To date, 99 Livesimply Awards have been earned across England and Wales, in 69 different parishes and 28 schools. The Livesimply Award has also been earned by Newman University in Birmingham and the Knights of Saint Columba Council, Southend-on-Sea. While Catholic parishes were often very committed to social justice, care for the environment had not been a focus of the average parish. The Livesimply award can help change that and the programme is being pushed with churches and schools during the Season of Creation.
On 4th October the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is launching its Laudato Si’ Action Platform. In the spirit of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si,’ this project includes seven sustainability goals to be achieved within seven years. They include adopting renewable energy and achieving carbon neutrality; defending all life; solidarity with indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups; adopting simpler lifestyles; fostering ecological education and spirituality; advocating for sustainable development; and following ethical investment guidelines, including divestment from fossil fuels and other industries that harm the planet. “There is hope,” Francis added. “We can all collaborate, each with their own culture and experience, each with their own initiatives and abilities, so that our mother Earth returns to its original beauty and creation again shines according to God’s plan.” even sectors of the church are asked to achieve those goals within a seven-year timeframe.
Climate Sunday services will be held during the Season of Creation, including one in Glasgow on 5th September. More than 1500 churches from the denominational spectrum in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland have already signed up.
“A Catholic Season of Creation” resource for the Sundays of Year B – September/October 2021- has been produced by Columban Charles Rue in Australia. It explores the Sunday scripture readings to help us find the voice of the earth as the voice of the Holy Spirit. Our common Sunday worship is an easy place to start seeing the natural world in God’s plan of Salvation in Jesus Christ by linking the insights of ecology with Scripture. Using this resource, Catholic communities can systematically answer Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’ to respect what scientists tell us about billions of year of cosmic evolution and contemplate God’s presence there. We can recognise that the earth is being abused; that poor people are the first to suffer and pray to be responsible carers for the multiple gifts of the earth as co-creators with God.