'Care for our Common Home' was the theme of a Day of Reflection and Action at St. Mary's, Poole, last Saturday, organised by Plymouth Justice and Peace, CAFOD and the Diocese of Plymouth. Using the process ''See -Judge - Act - Celebrate' around 30 people from a range of parishes gathered on one of the hottest days of the year to explore the link between our faith as Christians and our responsibility towards the welfare of the Earth. Planet Earth has been described as 'our common home' in the papal encyclical Laudato Si'.
Speakers for the day were Mary Conway of Justice and Peace, Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC, and David Wells, the author and catechist.
Difficult questions were raised about lifestyle. Some issues raised were: single use plastics causing pollution of the oceans; the overuse of cars - causing Co2 emissions to rise, affecting the climate; wastage of food when millions in the world go hungry. All that we do almost unconsciously on a daily basis can affect the lives of people around the globe. We were encouraged to reflect on our lives - to see all people as our neighbours, including refugees, and to work towards an "ecological conversion" whereby care for creation is part of our mission as followers of Christ.
We looked at examples how the climate crisis is causing droughts, floods and extreme weather patterns globally, which has led scientists and theologians to conclude that we are facing a 'climate emergency' and immediate action is required. Some of the group attended the lobby of parliament on climate change a few days earlier and the feeling was the climate can be stabilised again if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions urgently, among other measures. The government will be urged to work seriously towards meeting its promise of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, or ideally earlier.
In 'Laudato Si'', Pope Francis asks us as loving people of God to see Creation as a beautiful gift, given by God to us to care for and to enjoy. It is however fragile and vulnerable to destructive human activity.
The message of the day was that we must act now to protect the Earth - not just for ourselves but for others so that they can live and for future generations. And as Christians we must do this in Hope and Joy.
Ellen gave us some examples of local actions:
Support local environmental campaigns; Push for a Diocesan Environment Policy; Consider the Global Healing Programme; Use Fairtrade products; Support the Church's outreach to refugees; Promote the livesimply award for Catholic parishes and schools; Link sacraments with social justice/creation care; Study Laudato Si themes in the Columban study programme; send representatives to the National J&P Network annual conference; Prepare for the Day of Prayer for Care of Creation on 1 September and Creation Time 1 September - 4 October 2019. In our everyday lives, we should strive to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor.
Parish priest Fr John Webb opened the day with a welcome and prayer, and then gave his support by staying throughout. Deacon Nick Johnson concluded the day with a Laudato Si' prayer and then showed the speakers trees planted in the grounds to commemorate each year's parish First Holy Communion group.
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