I would never have been so bold as to write these lines, if I didn’t have the backing of none other than the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis! He affirmed forcefully in his encyclical, “Laudato Si”, that our solidarity with those who are struggling to save our endangered “common home” for future generations, and especially for the poorest among us is an inescapable part of what it is to be Christian. It is one of our sacred duties as Christians, right up there with giving testimony to our gospel.
And so I simply want to send out a “booster shot” of Pope Francis’ exhortation. Why now? Again, because this is summertime, a time, in principle, when we are more at leisure, and we enjoy the luxury of being able to attend to matters that the busyness of our lives usually crowd out, because they are not of immediate importance. One of these matters is the question: what can I do, what can we do, as a family, that we are not already doing, to be a part of the solution with respect to halting or at least slowing down the pace of global warming, and with respect to the depletion of our planet’s resources? There is definitely, in all our lives, more that can be done. So I suggest that this summer, in addition to resting, getting fresh air, and reading the psalms of ascent, you give some thought to global warming and the depletion of the world’s resources, and the difference that you can make. Think about it this summer, and identify the practices that you might adopt, or the practices you might abandon, in the name of reducing your carbon footprint, or in the name of reducing your consumption of the world’s resources. I realize that here at the parish level, we have to “walk the talk”. I promise that in the coming weeks and months, we will do everything in our power to come closer to being a “green parish”, and that we will find ways of enabling you to be “green households”.
It is now an established scientific fact: we are depleting the world’s resources, and we are warming the planet’s atmosphere, both of which, if left unchecked, will have drastic consequences, especially for the world’s poorest regions. In the face of this fact, how do we, as Christians and as Catholics, want to be judged by history? Do we want to be deemed to have been a part of the problem, or a part of the solution?
Pope Francis, in his admirably brave realism, affirms in “Laudato Si” that only a collective conversion of a significant part of humanity can ensure our success in slowing down global warming and in putting an end to our squandering of the resources upon which we depend for humankind’s survival. I believe he is quite right. We have no control over this necessary conversion. We can exhort one another, we can talk up the problem, but we can’t bring about a global conversion. That, by and large, is in God’s hands. Let us then pray for the grace of this worldwide conversion, starting with our own.
May God bless and inspire us to protect our “common home”,