Q:Archbishop J, why a Season of Creation?
Between September 1 and October 4, Christians on six continents are coming together “for a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth … to discover new ways of living with creation”, a time to remember our call to care for our common home.
September 1 is the day of prayer for creation and October 4, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
This year’s theme is: A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God. The Greek word oikos, from which comes the English prefix eco-, as in ecology or economy, has three interconnected meanings—the family, the family’s property, and the house.
From this perspective, the theme this year is seeking renewal of God’s family, the family property, and our common home, the Earth.
Commenting on the theme, the official website says: “The psalmist proclaims, ‘the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.’ There are two statements of faith at the heart of this song. The first is that every creature belongs to the earth community. The second is that the entire community belongs to the Creator.”
It was because of this that Pope Francis coined the term “our common home” to refer to the Earth.
Further, the site says:
By rooting our theme in the concept of oikos, we point to the integral web of relationships that sustain the wellbeing of the Earth. The word ecology (oikologia) describes the relationships between animals, plants, non-sentient organisms, and minerals that each play a vital role in maintaining the balance of this beloved community. Each creature is important and contributes to the health and resilience of the biodiverse ecosystem in which it lives. Humans belong in the right relationship within this Earth community. We are made from the same stuff of the earth, and are cared for by our co-creatures and the land.
This is a rich reflection that speaks to the integral ecology of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’. We are interdependent, all part of God’s creation: the plants, the animals and us. We all need each other.
Everything we make and use to sustain human society comes from the earth. Our habits of consumption and use of natural resources have a direct impact upon the planet. We humans have acted as if creation is there to be exploited for our gain in the present generation.
Because of our actions, the planet is sick, and we are not giving it the time to heal. There is much wisdom to the biblical mandate of a jubilee year when the land is allowed to rest every 50 years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report was released on August 9. Upon its release, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the report as a “code red for humanity”.
The report states: “Global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control”. It warned that “the world is already certain to face further climate disruptions for decades, if not centuries to come,” and concludes that humans are “unequivocally to blame”.
The Secretary General said: “The alarm bells are deafening. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”
The IPCC report draws on more than 14,000 scientific studies and gives “the most comprehensive and detailed picture yet of how climate change is altering the natural world – and what could still be ahead.”
Global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degrees centigrade since pre-industrial times. The report warns: “Unless immediate, rapid and large-scale action is taken to reduce emissions, the average global temperature is likely to reach or cross the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold within 20 years. The consequences of this will be disastrous.”
The AEC Bishop’s statement: ‘Declaration on Climate Change 2015’, says: “We recognise that climate change represents a significant threat to the sustainability of Caribbean life as we know it. Our nations are already impacted by unusual heavy rainfall, warmer temperatures, prolonged periods of drought, rising sea levels and the prospect of more intense storm events” (7).
Our region is the second most vulnerable to rising sea levels. In the last six years our situation has become extreme. We have to act.
Season of Creation in T&T
In 2010, The Catholic Commission for Social Justice issued a Draft framework towards an Environmental Policy for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The aim of the policy was to invite Catholics to: Pray, Learn, Assess, Act and Advocate on behalf of the planet.
The encyclical Laudato Si’ calls us to ecological conversion. In the current crisis, we need to remember Pope Francis’ words and take them to heart: “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (217).
Each of us has a part to play in caring for our common home. It is a vocation and a moral responsibility.
For the last few years, our Archdiocese has celebrated the Season of Creation. Please look at the events that are available and participate. We need to learn more about what we can do as individuals, families, parishes, and schools. It is our responsibility.
Because of the urgent nature of this crisis, through the Franciscan Institute for Personal & Family Development, we have opened a local branch of the Laudato Si’ Movement (formerly the Global Catholic Climate Movement) “which serves the Catholic family worldwide to turn Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ into action for climate justice, by undergoing our own ecological conversion, transforming our lifestyles and calling for bold public policies together with the wider climate movement”.
We will undertake several actions as an Archdiocese to educate and invite all people of goodwill to ecological conversion. We will also work tirelessly to eradicate single-use plastic from use in our Church within a given timeframe.
Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue.
Reflect on your use of electricity, water, and single-use plastics, including disposable bottles. Identify ways to reduce your family’s usage in these areas.