Vatican speaker tells NJPN: 'this must be the decade for action, inspired by Laudato Si'

  • Ellen Teague

A speaker from the Vatican's Dicastery for Integral Human Development has told Justice and Peace campaigners in England and Wales that 2020-2030 should be a "decade for action", responding to "the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor". He urged around 40 Justice and Peace activists "to ignite our parishes", inspired by Laudate Si', which he described as "a wonderful document". The way we are organising our society is destroying God's creation, he said, and parishes could play a huge role in protecting nature and promoting justice and peace.

Fr Augusto Zampini was addressing the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) meeting in Bristol on Saturday 8 February. Hosted by Clifton J&P Commission, the meeting took as its theme 'Our Common Home - creative responses'. Originally from Argentina, Fr Augusto is Director of Development and Faith at the Vatican's Dicastery for Integral Human Development. A former student at Bath University, and a consultant for a time with CAFOD, he was involved in preparations for last October's Amazon Synod at the Vatican. Pope Francis' much-awaited exhortation on the Pan-Amazonian synod will be released next week, bearing the title, 'Beloved Amazonia'.

"We must connect science to faith" Fr Zampini urged, pointing out that scientists have warned for decades about climate change and that anticipated changes are already underway. "Don't accept the narrative denying what the scientists are saying", he said, and he called for listeners to take seriously the mission of Pope Francis to point out the human roots of "unprecedented social-economic-ecological crises". The consumerist and throw-away culture were among the problems identified and the failure to value other creatures and give them space to live. He used the word 'Ecocide' several times to explain what is happening, and highlighted Paragraph 74 of Laudato Si' which suggests that "injustice is not invincible".

Fr Zampini felt civil society is increasingly speaking out on the streets because of the lack of political will to address fundamental issues destroying 'our common home'. Showing a satellite image of Australia in January, with hundreds of fires burning, he warned that the planet is adapting to climate change and heading towards becoming a planet inhospitable to human life. "We will have a different house if nothing is done", he said.

Following Fr Augusto's talk, Phil Kingston, of Holy Family, Patchway, and a member of Christian Climate Action explained why he has been involved in civil disobedience and advised on how to cope with anxieties over "our common home". He has been arrested several times recently for nonviolent direct action highlighting inadequate action on climate change and the link between environmental destruction and the global economy. He expressed admiration for the leadership offered by Pope Francis in Laudato Si' to hear "the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor". He feels only a widespread movement of civil disobedience will force politicians and leaders of corporations to meet the challenges of our times. Nikki Jones, founder of local charity, Avon Needs Trees, spoke about buying land between Chippenham and Calne for reforestation.

NJPN business include discussion of plans for the July 2020 annual conference, being planned by the Northern Dioceses Environmental Group, the NJPN Environment Group, Nottingham Diocese J&P and Green Christian. It aims to update Christian witness for justice and peace in the light of recent developments in papal teaching, thinking on integral ecology, movements such as 'Extinction Rebellion' and scientific advice to policy makers. Systemic change to address economic-ecological crises will be explored and inspirational initiatives which lower carbon footprints and build a sustainable future.

Saturday's event, at St Nicholas of Tolentino Parish Hall, Bristol, was attended by Justice and Peace fieldworkers and activists from Clifton and other dioceses including Arundel and Brighton, Birmingham, Cardiff, East Anglia, Hallam, Liverpool and Westminster. They were joined by organisations, including CAFOD and Pax Christi, and religious, such as the Columbans.

CAFOD highlighted its 'Generations Unite' initiative, where each diocese has been partnered with a young climate leader or group from the global south to be inspired by and accompany during 2020. It is hoped this will enable people to adapt to a warming world and address the climate crisis. Pax Christi have a new nonviolence initiative for Lent. NonvioLent is inspired by Pope Francis' call to 'set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed' and by the work of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative to share widely an understanding of nonviolence as both a way of life and a gospel approach to challenging injustice. The Columbans reminded the meeting that 14th February is the closing date for their young journalists' competition, 'Tackling our Throwaway Culture'.


Tags: Fr Augusto Zampini Davies, Laudato Si, Environment, Phil Kingston,

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