By Leela Ramdeen, Chair CCSJ & AMMR & Head Animator of Animators, Laudato Si’ Movement – TT Chapter
“We must open our hearts, believers and non-believers alike, to the right of all species to exist. All life, human and other than human, holds intrinsic value. Their right to thrive is not dependent on serving humanity but is a way to give glory to the Creator” (Petition).
I urge every Catholic to sign the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition via this link: https://thecatholicpetition.org, and encourage friends, family, and others to sign it also.
As the organisers state: “When Catholics come together and live out our faith, amazing things happen. Just look at how Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ has enlivened Catholics everywhere to care for creation.”
There are two major conferences that will take place in October and November. “At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in October, world leaders can set meaningful targets to protect creation. In November (1–12), at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), countries will announce their plans to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. Ahead of those meetings, it is our responsibility as Catholics to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf. We must act now.”
The petition, which has already been signed by thousands of Catholics around the world, asks politicians who will be attending the conferences to:
– Tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis together
– Commit to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and promise no more biodiversity loss
– Ensure equitable global action, including support for those most affected
– Protect and respect human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in climate and biodiversity action.
As you know, Pope Francis will be attending the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in November. The petition ends with a powerful statement: “With Pope Francis leading us, we pray that you and all political leaders throughout the world, who are tasked with the duty to make life-saving decisions in this critical year, will bring us out better from the Covid-19 crisis towards an equitable common home for all life, for generations to come. As Pope Francis said to world leaders at the Earth Day Summit in April, ‘we have the means to rise up to the challenge…It is time to act.’” This is a moral crisis.
Creation is the work of God and is God’s gift to us. As stated in Genesis 1: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
He expects each of us to “cultivate and care for” His creation. Sadly, around the world our environment is being destroyed at an alarming rate, causing millions of human beings to be adversely affected. One writer reminds us that there is no Planet B.
In Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, written to every person on the planet, his concern is palpable when he said: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
This reminds me of the statement in the Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The bonds that unite the world to God have…been broken. This rupture has also resulted in separating human beings from the world and, more radically, has impoverished human beings’ very identity. They find themselves thinking that they are foreign to the environmental context in which they live. The consequences resulting from this are all too clear: it is the relationship human beings have with God that determines their relationship with each other and with their environment” (n 464).
In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis refers to an “integral ecology”—everything is interconnected. In order to embrace this concept and employ the SEE-JUDGE-ACT process, we require a cultural and spiritual conversion built on a “culture of encounter.”
The Holy Father reminds us that “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.” He calls for changes in lifestyles, behaviour, models of production and consumption.
The recent United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report is a clear wake-up call for humanity— referred to by the UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, as “code red for humanity”.
In order to pull back from the brink, we must act NOW. Please lift up your voice by signing the petition and pray that politicians at COP15 and COP26 will do what is right and just.