By Laura Ann Phillips
No regular bar, this. Not a sand bar perched on a pure, azure sea. This one is five miles long, off the territory of Honduras – a flotilla of Styrofoam and plastic waste wrought by various Caribbean territories, including Trinidad and Tobago.
Of which environmentalist Courtenay “The Bushman” Rooks recently reminded us with, seemingly, little effect. Pope Francis, however, seems to have set the example of what we should all be doing – using our personal and professional means to influence change in the way business is done in and around our natural environment.
And doing so because of our faith in the Creator God who made it all.
A June 8, Zenit report stated that, “In accordance with the Holy Father’s October 2017 proclamation, the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, called to reflect on the theme: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology, will take place in October 2019.”
According to the preamble of the Synod’s preparatory document, “New paths for evangelization must be designed for and with the People of God who live in this region: inhabitants of communities and rural areas, of cities and large metropolises, people who live on river banks, migrants and displaced persons, and especially for and with indigenous peoples.”
The business of the Church has always been evangelisation. The Good News cannot be spared, nor can we be spared the responsibility of spreading it. And, in this new-ish evangelisation, respect will be its hallmark.
Listening to the people who live in the Amazon; who see, first hand, the upstream changes that already affects us all. Then, apply pressure to decision-makers to address the: “deep crisis … triggered by prolonged human intervention, in which a ‘culture of waste’ (LS 16) and an extractivist mentality prevail.”
And, to do so with a reverence for the Amazonian peoples that echoes the awe with which we were encouraged to honour all creation in Laudato Si.
“Their worldview and wisdom have much to teach those of us who do not belong to their culture,” noted the Holy Father in Puerto Maldonado during his January visit to Peru.
“All our efforts towards improving the lives of the Amazonian peoples will always be too few.”
Pope Francis laments: “The dominant culture of consumerism and waste turns the planet into one giant landfill. The Pope denounces this model of development as faceless, suffocating, and motherless, and as obsessed only with material goods and the idols of money and power.”
Isn’t that what also paralyses our scattered attempts to heal our environment?
No-one can argue that the Amazon region isn’t in trouble, and has been for some time. Their troubles are ours, simply because we share the same space. After all, we share the Orinoco.
Perhaps their grace can be ours, also, if we do what is right: take our garbage home, re-use that mayo bottle, hang a bird-feeder – make the inconvenient decisions that could well save our world, with a little green and a lot of Good News.