Many thanks to Anne Dodd our parish volunteer at Our Lady and St Edmund Abingdon for sharing her report on the National Justice and Peace conference on Action for Life on Earth.
“It was an uplifting and invigorating experience to be, for a whole weekend, amongst 200+ others who felt equally strongly that Laudato Si- Pope Francis` Encyclical Letter on Care of the Earth, Our Common Home was the Good News that the world was waiting to hear from the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has opened our eyes to see that Care of Creation is an intrinsic part of our Catholic faith. In responding to the “cry of the earth “ and the “cry of the poor”, as Laudato Si urges, we put our faith into action.
The theme of this year`s Annual Conference was timely and urgent with signs of the climate emergency increasingly apparent around us and the November UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow less than 100 days away. The challenge is, we all agreed, was to turn the words of Laudato Si into the lived reality in each diocese, each parish, each school, each personal life. There was, and is, no lack of leadership and resources to call on. Bishop John Arnold, the lead bishop on the environment for England and Wales, and Dr Emma Gardner, the Head of Environment in his diocese of Salford offered us fully what had already been done in one diocese, which could be drawn on by all. The other keynote speakers, particularly Lorna Gold, the Chair of the Global Catholic Climate Network who has worked closely with the Vatican, inspired and encouraged us. In workshops and informal diocesan groupings, ideas and suggestions were freely shared.
4 specific ways ahead emerged, relevant at diocesan and /or parish level.
- Fossil fuel divestment by every diocese. Although all Anglican dioceses have achieved this, only four Catholic ones have done so.
- Now that each diocese has appointed an Environmental Head, there was a recognised need for clear environmental policies that would involve every aspect of diocesan work.
- All religious denominations had already been urged to hold a Climate Sunday this autumn. The Season of Creation, which is also marked ecumenically, from 1st Sept to 4th Oct would be a particularly timely period for each parish to have this in the run up to COP 26 in November.
- Every parish should work towards becoming a Live Simply Parish.
Resources abound. A template for a Climate Mass (and other resources) are on the CAFOD website, which also has all the details for becoming a Live Simply Parish. The Season of Creation website has resources and ideas. The Operation Noah has details of the Bright Now campaign for churches to divest from fossil fuels, with help and advice.
As for the Conference itself, all the presentations are already on YouTube and reports are on both the Tablet website and the Independent Catholic News website.
We have all we need to make Laudato Si`s prophetic call a lived reality in all our lives!”
For more information on the livesimply award click here.