In a sobering message to the Glasgow COP26 meeting, Pope Francis likened the wounds cause by climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic to those inflicted by World War II. Just as in that post-war period the international community had to come together and find solutions to rebuild human communities and the economy so now we are called to do the same.
Pope Francis has been clear throughout his papacy, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, that climate change is one of the biggest moral challenges of our time. He has continually reminded us that we cannot consider the physical world without thinking of the people of the world. He draws his inspiration from St Francis, whose name he took as guide and inspiration for his papacy. Francis was “a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace.” (Laudato Si’ 11).
These four things are worth considering: concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace. Somehow these are all related. Our concern for the natural environment is a sign of our commitment to the most vulnerable on our planet. Unbridled consumption, continued use of unrenewable or scarce resources and wastefulness not only harm our planet, they harm the poor before anyone else. And so to take communal responsibility for the environment, the world and its peoples, is good for society and good for our own inner peace. It enables us to live together in solidarity, it makes sure that the poorest are not forgotten and it brings us peace.
As we open our parishes again there is an opportunity for us to think and pray about how we might be a community for which climate change is at the heart of what we do and who we are. The renewal of our parishes, including a renewed missionary focus cannot happen without this ecological conversion.
Perhaps some hope will lie in the young people who will be confirmed in our parishes over the coming weeks. Please keep them in your prayers. We will have eight celebrations of confirmation across our three parishes, beginning with two ceremonies this Sunday afternoon at Deepdene. Let’s pray for our young people that the Holy Spirit and the inspiration of St Francis might stir new hearts to have a concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and bring about inner peace.