May 24th marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Encyclical Letter by Pope Francis ‘Laudato Sí – On Care of Our Common Home’, in May 2015.
“When we speak of the ‘environment’ what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it.” (LS#139)
Through all of the media at our disposal we are constantly being made aware of the impact of climate change on the future of our planet. More recently The Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) published its global assessment on the state of the world’s biodiversity and ecosystem services. The findings of this assessment did not come as any surprise to those working in the field of nature conservation. The headlines could not have been anymore stark:
- Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’
- Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’
- Current global response insufficient;
- ‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature;
- 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction
The report showed that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and that the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely. The health of ecosystems on which we (and all other species) depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our and future generation’s economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. The link to sustainable development is clear.
Our collaborative role in these ‘Armageddon-esk’ realities is quite shocking.
The Report also stressed that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global. It concludes:
“Through transformative change, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, the report means a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
(The assessment was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors. It is based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources so it has credibility. The findings need to be listened to and, more importantly, acted upon, and acted upon quickly. See IPBES Global Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers
So how can we go about ‘sowing hope for the planet’?
Ireland declares a climate emergency
This morning (10th May) Ireland became only the second country after Britain, to declare a climate emergency. A decision hailed by the Swedish teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg as “great news”. An amendment to a parliamentary report declaring a climate emergency and calling on the parliament “to examine how [the Irish government] can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss” was accepted without a vote late on Thursday. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist who has spearheaded protests across Europe (and who is becoming one of the most passionate voices of the green movement) urged more nations to follow suit. (Britain’s parliament became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency, passing the largely symbolic motion on 1 May).
UISG Plenary 2019
At the International Gathering of Superior Generals (UISG Plenary 2019) currently taking place in Rome from the 6-10th May 2019, Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM spoke about the UISG Campaign for the Planet: Laudato Sí and the Way Forward – Presentation of a Commitment on the Environment. See link to the full text of this presentation HERE.
However, it is worth also sharing some of the extracts from this presentation as it provides profound pointers as to how we might live this action of ‘Sowing Hope for the Planet’*. https://www.sowinghopefortheplanet.org/
Sowing Hope for the Planet (Extracts from full UISG presentation text)
“On June 18, 2018, the UISG Board launched the campaign: Sowing Hope for the Planet, sharing efforts of women religious in putting Laudato Sí into practice. Already, Laudato Sí was spreading throughout religious communities, becoming a deeply meaningful connection with people and the earth through faith and the words of Pope Francis.
This realisation led to the awareness of this phenomenon developing into a deeper interconnection, carrying the message to a global network of religious working together to:
“hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (LS #49)
This collective listening creates a collective voice and a collective action that carries a powerful potential for making the message a reality rather than doing it as individuals.
Emphasising the fundamental connection that exists between the environmental crisis and the social crisis that we are currently experiencing, Pope Francis asks us for a personal and communal ecological conversion, often reminding us that “everything is interconnected.”
The timing of this campaign
“The timing of the campaign comes with the growing awareness and urgency of climate change and the need to address its impact on the environment and society. ‘Laudato Sí’ offers a spiritual relationship and solutions to a seriously critical situation that are so desperately needed in our world today.
It begins with awareness and unfolds with inspiration, giving our Sisters’ voice the influential power to make a difference, coordinating experiences that provide them, and their connections the opportunities to become fully sensitive to the situation of our common home, so as “to dare to turn what is happening to the world into their own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”(LS#19)
This provided an opportunity to not only develop a network that could help to spread what is being done, but also to highlight the work of women religious. For a long time, many have actively been working to stop the Earth’s devastation and its people, and this gathering, highlights their action and commitments.
The concept note was developed through the collaborative efforts of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Secretariat and the Global Catholic Climate Movement through the initiative of the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG), bringing together the richness and connections of its member congregations, so that the “interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan.” (LS#164)
For the common good in our environment, our common home
After a year of reflecting on the work we have been doing together and taking seriously the call to take into our hearts the pain of the world, we accept the responsibility to determine what is ours to do. As international congregations we need to look at the ways we have been guilty of environmental destruction and disregard for these consequences to one another and especially to the poor. ~ UISG
“Sisters are present in countries where the lifestyle negatively impacts the rise in temperature, effecting climate change and where they are most affected by climate change. Our communities are both intimate with the cause and effect. With our personal commitment to one another, we are ideally positioned to respond compassionately in an integrated effort. As a community of Sisters living the Gospel, in solidarity with one another, we know that everything is interconnected, and we wish to live our religious life for the common good in our environment, our common home”.
We commit ourselves to both personal and communal conversion and
We wish to move forward together in an orchestrated and coordinated response in
Listening to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the Poor
As we go forth as instruments of hope
In the heart of the world.
As Pope Francis reminds us,
“All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (LS14)
Note: ‘Sowing Hope for the Planet’ is a campaign of International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) see website link and details in the main text.