Following Pope Francis’ invitation in this 1 minute video to join Laudato Si’ Week, Catholics everywhere will reflect and prepare for action 16-24 May.
TOWARDS A NEW NORMAL: A GREEN RECOVERY
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 &13 (NRSV): “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ... But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture - “I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak ...”
The Global Catholic Climate Movement offers us a beautiful reflection about the pandemic, and what we can learn as we address the other looming threat to our world, the global ecological crisis.
It was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 which had a huge and widespread impact. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries as it raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in US pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides.
Other events having great impact were other oil tanker spills e.g. Torrey Canyon (1967). The Flemish Catholic movement (Anders Gaan Leven Live Differently) was an example of Catholic youth involvement.
The Trimates- (English, American and Canadian) Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas — chosen by anthropologist Louis Leakey also helped raise awareness as did the National Geographic and David Attenborough’s natural history unit of the BBC. I remember the existence of The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation in Burnaby/ Vancouver, BC and Greenpeace in Vancouver, BC both founded in 1969. As the name suggests, Greenpeace was closely associated/grew out of the anti-war and anti-nuclear movement. As someone said “Peace” as a greeting/goodbye Bill Darnell said: “Better make it a green peace”.
Peace activist John McConnell first proposed the idea of Earth Day in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. US Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day one month later on 22 April 1970, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill from an offshore oil platform 10 km off Santa Barbara, California. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first of their kind environmental laws. Realizing that solutions would only be effective through common effort, countries convened the first global conference on the environment in Stockholm from 5-16 June 1972.
Largely because of U.S. leadership, industrialized nations agreed to establish and provide initial funding for what is arguably the world’s premier global environmental institution: the United Nations Environment Programme. UNEP catalyzed negotiation of the 1985 Vienna Convention and its follow-on, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a treaty to restrict production and use of substances that deplete Earth’s protective ozone layer. Today the agency continues to drive international efforts on issues including pollution control, biodiversity conservation and climate change.
In 1990 Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy changes.
Unfortunately under the current President, US leadership in the environmental movement has wilted and reversed!
What did Pope Francis say about Earth Day 2020?
In his weekly address, Pope Francis honoured the Earth Day movement. He said, “As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst."
More from the Holy Father, who in an Easter Sunday letter to popular movements wrote, “In these days of great anxiety and hardship, many have used war-like metaphors to refer to the pandemic we are experiencing. If the struggle against COVID-19 is a war, then you are truly an invisible army, an army whose only weapons are solidarity, hope, and community spirit, all revitalizing at a time when no one can save themselves alone.”
There is hope and here is an example: Renewable energy and 50 million jobs! Read on...
The big question is: Will the world’s governments be willing to put their money where their mouths are? Beware the “widening gap between rhetoric and action” by governments regarding climate change. The unfortunate fact is that whereas governments everywhere have been paying lip service to climate change and clean energy, in reality, they are wont to go to much greater lengths to try and save the fossil fuel sector from collapse than invest in clean energy projects with much longer and unproven paybacks.
Laudato Si’ teaches us that “everything is connected.” From a recent report: The scientists said the multi trillion-dollar economic recovery packages being rolled out by governments must be used to strengthen and enforce environmental protection: “It may be politically expedient to relax environmental standards and to prop up industries such as intensive agriculture, airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so without requiring urgent and fundamental change essentially subsidises the emergence of future pandemics.” Read more...
How do we make the governments listen? In our National JPIC Action Plan (2012) at n. 2.3 we call it parrhesia (to speak boldly)! Or as Acts 4:29 puts it: “thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word”; Laudato Si’ (38 & 179) also told us.
What happens when countries work together for the Common Good?
And got another minute? One is enough! Time to watch:
TIME FOR A SONG! A new favourite:
...a song created by an affiliate of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, brought to us by JPIC Franciscans Africa and written by Steven Kezamutima, ofs, the founder and leader of Waka Waka Band that is behind the “Anti COVID-19” song. Founded in August 2016, the band is made up of ten Secular Franciscan youths studying at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Kenya and drawn from various African countries, among them Kenya, Malawi, Burundi and DR Congo. Steven is a university student from Burundi pursuing a Masters degree in Justice, Peace and Social Cohesion at CUEA and referred to in the song as Baba Miti (Father of Trees in Swahili), a nickname his peers gave him due to the Birthday Tree Planting Campaign he runs across East Africa. Together with Lusungu Kumwenda from Malawi and the Waka Waka Band they sing it: African reggae!
The song called AntiCovid-19 is here to give hope to People and Planet that God is taking control. A call for a united sustainable global response: human need before corporate greed. Read more about it here .
While Africa is in our thoughts perhaps we can reflect on this: As if covid19 is not enough, for more than two years the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have warned that sub-Saharan Africa stands on the verge of a debt crisis.
Does this call for charity or justice?
Inequality/injustice: Rethinking executive compensation in times of crisis?!
“As Tom Powdrill at the U.K. pension consultancy PIRC wrote recently, “Watching medical staff worldwide throw themselves into the battle against COVID-19, without any expectation that they will be paid a single penny extra as a ‘bonus’ for their efforts, but with the expectation that some of them will die, requires us to rethink things fundamentally.” Read more...
Another beautiful song in this time of trial: The Prayer (4.28 mins)
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is not justice in the hearts, minds and hands of the practitioner?
I wish you all peace & joy! - Andrew