The feast of St. Francis on October 4th marked the end of the Season of Creation. The J&P Commission celebrated this feast with a liturgy exploring and praying about the links between Conflict and Climate Change. Using the YCW See, Judge Act approach, short videos were used to find out about the experiences of people across the world. Climate Change is exacerbating situations where there is already weak governance or food insecurity and conflicts become more likely as a consequence. People were asked to reflect on these situations in the light of their faith and some quotes from Laudato Si and Luke’s Gospel were used to lead people into a short period of silent reflection.
The final section of the liturgy was about taking action. Cardinal Cardjin’s key insight in developing the ‘See, Judge, Act’ approach was to recognise that understanding situations in our world and relating them to our Faith is all very well – but is worthless unless it leads to action to remedy unjust situations. This includes situations that harm our Common Home, the Earth.
At a global level, two examples were used through the use of video material. Fr Edwin Gariguez from the Philippines explained how he worked with local people to stop a Norwegian company from undertaking mining operations that would have had a devastating effect on the communities living in the area. Nemonte Nenquimo, from Ecuador, worked with her indigenous community and successfully stopped the Ecuadorian Government from selling the land on which these communities live.
Climate Change is a global problem that needs action at a global level by politicians. Consequently, many people do not do anything because of a feeling of powerlessness.
Nemonte Nenquimo from Ecuador pointed out that it needs action by people across the globe if we are to truly achieve action to mitigate Climate Change effects. We may not be able to see the direct impact of our actions – but taken together with the actions of everyone else they all contribute towards building the momentum needed to make changes at the political level.
We wanted to both celebrate the actions already being taken in our Diocese and provide examples that other church communities could also practically take up.
Michael Emly, from Our Lady of Kirkstall parish in Leeds, talked about the Creation Mass that they had organised and how they actively involved schoolchildren in such events.
Sr Sheila Griffiths of the Holy Family of Bordeaux sisters talked about her involvement in the campaign to get the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.
Vince Borg from St John Mary Vianney parish in N Leeds talked about the work they had done with their local Churches Together group -all signing a declaration about Climate Change – and the leaflet produced for parishioners across local churches to encourage everyone to take action for Climate Change.Vince has made these available to the Commission and you can download them if you are interested in using them as a basis for your own actions.
With COP26 in Glasgow coming up at the beginning of November, and Pope Francis expected to speak at it, now is the time for Catholics to express their concerns for our planet by any means possible.
A very easy thing to do would be to sign this petition being promoted by the Laudato Si movement (formerly known as the Global Catholic Climate Coalition).
One step up would be to write to your MP to express your concerns – it doesn’t take long and only the simplest googling is required to find out how to contact them!