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The Earth is ours to heal

Laudato Si’ Week 2022, from May 22-29, marks the 7th anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on creation care.  The Earth is ours to heal.

This week offers the opportunity to unite  globally in listening and responding together ‘to the cry of creation’.  We need to seize it  as a vital opportunity to  intensify our efforts through the dynamic Laudato Si’ Action Platform, walking the “Synodal” path.

The impact of hearing ‘the cry of the Earth’

Seven years ago, when Laudato Si’ came out, it was hailed as an influential papal document that addressed crucial global issues connected with environmental exploitation as never before. It has enabled us to recognise the strong connection between human greed and irreparable environmental damage. It has pushed us to seek responsible development that could end environmental disasters and human suffering.

At the time, James Martin, SJ in America Magazine – The Jesuit Review (June 18th, 2015) wrote about the ‘top ten takeaways’ from Laudato Si as follows:

1)    The spiritual perspective is now part of the discussion on the environment.
2)    The poor are disproportionately affected by climate change.
3)    Less is more*.  “moderation and the capacity to be happy with little” (No. 222).
4)    Catholic social teaching now includes teaching on the environment.
5)    Discussions about ecology can be grounded in the Bible and church tradition.
6)    Everything is connected—including the economy.
7)    Scientific research on the environment is to be praised and used.
8)    Widespread indifference and selfishness worsen environmental problems.
9)    Global dialogue and solidarity are needed.
10)   A change of heart is required.

He concluded:

At heart, this document, addressed to “every person on the planet” is a call for a new way of looking at things, a “bold cultural revolution” (No. 3, 114). We face an urgent crisis, when, thanks to our actions, the earth has begun to look more and more like, in Francis’ vivid language, “an immense pile of filth” (No. 21). Still, the document is hopeful, reminding us that because God is with us, we can strive both individually and corporately to change course. We can awaken our hearts and move towards an “ecological conversion” in which we see the intimate connection between God and all beings, and more readily listen to the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (No. 49).

Seven years on we know that so much more than ‘a change of heart’ is now needed!

Not history – but reality

Just in recent weeks (May 2022) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC WGII) has published its sixth report entitled Climate Change 2022 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Summary for Policy Makers.  (The IPCC peer review all the available research at any given time in order to piece together the most up to date information relating to climate change).

This current report recognizes the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human societies, and integrates knowledge more strongly across the natural, ecological, social and economic sciences than earlier IPCC assessments. Their assessment of climate change impacts and risks is set against  unfolding non-climatic global trends e.g., biodiversity loss, overall unsustainable consumption of natural resources, land and ecosystem degradation, rapid urbanisation, human demographic shifts, social and economic inequalities and a pandemic.

There is no doubt that human society causes climate change, or as John Gibbons, Environmentalist, Journalist and founder of the website Climate Change.ie  said recently: ‘Humanity is at war with nature’!

In fact in a very real sense we are at war with ourselves.  The climate crisis is at the heart of a moral crisis, even if this crisis seems to be in the ecological domain.  Human society causes climate change.

Human influence on the Earth’s climate is indisputable, increasingly apparent, and widespread, reflected in both the growing scientific literature and in the perception and experiences of people worldwide. Current changes in the climate system and those expected in the future will increasingly have significant and disastrous  impacts on human and natural systems. The impacts of climate change and extreme weather events have adversely affected, or caused the loss of ecosystems including terrestrial, freshwater, ocean and coastal ecosystems, including tropical coral reefs.  At the same time it has reduced food security; contributed to migration and displacement; damaged livelihoods, health and security of people; and increased inequality.

Climate change also interacts with other significant societal changes that have become more salient, including a growing and urbanising global population; significant inequality and demands for social justice; rapid technological change; continuing poverty, land and water degradation, biodiversity loss; food insecurity; and a global pandemic.

Living Laudato Si 

It ahs never been more urgent to ‘live Laudato Si’ with a serious focus  on advocacy as well as personal commitments to action locally and globally.

The programme offered by Laudato Si’ Week 2022: Journeying Together (laudatosiweek.org) is as follows:

MAY22   12:00 pm – 1:00 pm   Opening of Laudato Si’ Week by Pope Francis

MAY22   3:00 pm – 4:00 pm    Prayer Gathering from Uganda

MAY23   10:00 am – 12:00 pm   No More Biodiversity Collapse: Rebalancing Social Systems with Nature

MAY24   9:00 am – 10:15 am   Empowering ECO-mmunity, Embracing the Poor

MAY25   3:00 pm – 4:30 pm    Fossil Fuels, Violence, and The Climate Crisis

MAY26   11:30 am – 6:00 pm   Faith-Consistent Investing—Living Laudato Si’

MAY27   2:00 pm – 3:00 pm    Sneak Peek: Feature Documentary on Laudato Si’

MAY28   9:00 pm – 10:00 pm   Laudato Si’ Festival from Assisi: Ecological spirituality

MAY29   3:00 pm – 4:00 pm    Prayer Gathering. Community resilience and empowerment as part of our Synodal Journey

You can also download the Laudato Si Week Celebration Guide for LSW

Prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of
this earth,
so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and
destruction.

Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

Amen

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 2015

Top Ten Takeaways from ‘Laudato Si’’ | America Magazine

See*  “In contrast with the consumerist mindset, Christian spirituality offers a growth marked by “moderation and the capacity to be happy with little” (No. 222).

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