The Season of Creation continues through September up until October 4 (the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology). This year many parishes are engaging in prayer, reflection and action, growing in deeper awareness of what it means to protect our common home. I was delighted to read Archbishop Dermot Farrell’s first pastoral letter: ‘The Cry of the Earth, the Cry of the Poor – The Climate Catastrophe, Creation’s Urgent Call for Change’, which was released at the beginning of this season. It is a compelling document which highlights the need for urgent action on the environmental crisis and invites each of us to embrace a deep nourishing eco-spirituality. Archbishop Farrell notes that “God reveals himself through the world”, and thus, in the face of the “code red” that scientists have issued for the environment and for humanity itself, God is calling us, individually and collectively, “to work for the good of the planet and the good of all”.
Archbishop Farrell notes that the “climate crisis is a societal issue. Addressing it – nationally and globally – requires a societal response. One aspect of this is the response of communities, and Church is profoundly about community” (p. 49). We must all play our part as parish communities, school communities, families and individuals for this concerns the home we all share, our common home. While the environmental crisis can leave many of us feeling powerless and overwhelmed there is much that we can do. The Season of Creation offers us a time to reflect deeply on where we are being called to act, within our own networks, using our gifts and talents. “The Church – locally and globally – needs to become even more an agent of change” and this pastoral letter offers many practical suggestions such as adopting more sustainable lifestyles, setting up parish Laudato Si’ groups, reconnecting with our local ecology through rootedness and belonging in local community, developing and deepening an ecological spirituality, raising awareness and promoting biodiversity, welcome and respect for the vulnerable particularly those driven from their homelands by natural disasters, famine and war.
There is much to think about and to pray about in this first pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Dublin and its publication is timely in the run up to the critical UN Climate Conference this November in Glasgow. With Pope Francis expected to attend this UN conference, Catholics everywhere are being asked to help create the momentum that is needed for real change. So, this Season of Creation we would urge all parishes, schools, families and communities to sign the ‘Healthy Planet Healthy People’ petition by going to www.thecatholicpetition.org, adding your name and encouraging family and friends to do the same. This is one way we can lift up the voices of the most vulnerable, respond to the cry of the earth, and take a stand for future generations.
Jane Mellett is the Laudato Si’ officer with Trócaire.