A timely reminder of why we work for justice, peace and integrity of creation
Michael Cusato, OFM, one of the foremost historians of medieval Franciscan history working in the field today was quoted in the Franciscans International website: “Together, Francis and Clare founded and inspired a movement of men and women who called for the transformation of society through a life of voluntary poverty, fraternity, and solidarity with the most marginalized—the three pillars of the Franciscan concept of minoritas. The Franciscan and Clarian insistence on minoritas (the “universal fraternity of all creation”) … is joyfully and dynamically lived out in active engagement with the world in order to affect mutual transformation. To be Franciscan … is to be in relationship with, rather than to stand apart from, those who are experiencing oppression, marginalization, and all forms of injustice.” (emphasis added). [N.B. OFS Rule 18 refers to “universal kinship” which includes our Sister Mother Earth.]
“We also encourage bishops and ecclesial bodies to make statements to raise awareness about the Season of Creation, helping the faithful to realize that ‘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’” (LS 217). [We might need to gently push our Bishops as well as our parish pastors! The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) did finally link to Msgr Duffé’s 24 May 2021 letter on the Season of Creation but not until 27 Aug 2021- too late to plan ahead! It does have the wholehearted support of Canada’s bishops, said CCCB spokesperson Lisa Gall: “Canada’s bishops remain steadfastly committed to encouraging the care of creation and our common home.” But the CCCB’s link is without any real additional Canadian promotional support. Makes one wonder why? Dublin Archbishop Dermot Farrell provides an Irish example of what could be done to make a statement as suggested by Msgr Duffé. Archbishop Farrell issued his own 64-page pastoral letter 30 Aug 2021 on "the climate catastrophe," and said that "the havoc of the [coronavirus] pandemic will pale compared to that of climate change."]
Duffé pointed out how next month’s ecumenical season will be a “critical moment for Catholics to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf ahead of two important summits.” [N.B. Global Climate Strike 24 Sept - see last page.] After the Season of Creation, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the UN Biodiversity Convention (COP15) will take place.
Duffé wrote: “I invite you to join advocacy initiatives such as the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition urging for bold action to protect creation in addition to other initiatives calling for new paths forward together.” [You may have already signed this petition, because Franciscan Voice Canada promoted and linked to it under Action-Take Action earlier in July. It will be presented to world leaders at the COP 26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, 1-12 Nov 2021— a meeting Pope Francis plans to attend.]
Early Catholic support came in 2003 from the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines. Pope Francis and the Vatican have shown prophetic leadership around the ecumenical celebration of prayer, action, and advocacy for our common home since 2015. In 2019 and 2020 Pope Francis started the Season with a powerful papal message, encouraging Catholics to host events and protect God’s creation. He also concluded the Season the past two years by thanking Christians around the world for their efforts.
Pope Francis invites you to celebrate the 2021 Season of Creation
Again he called for participation - General Audience Wednesday 1 Sept (video 1.07):
World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation and Season of Creation 2021
We ask for your support once more in promoting the Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition during the upcoming ecumenical Season of Creation 2021.
The Season of Creation is the moment for a push on this campaign. It is fortuitous that this important moment in our Christian calendar – when we pray, take action, and advocate for our common home – is just before these two major UN summits [and coincides with the Canadian election.] There is no reason why we can't mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, but we need to act together during the Season of Creation to realize this potential!
Catholics’ efforts will be aided by the new Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
The Vatican-led effort will empower Catholic families; parishes and dioceses; schools and universities; hospitals; workers, businesses and farms; organizations, groups and movements; & religious orders to implement Laudato Si’. A new website LaudatoSi.va has been created to support the initiative.
to advocate; raise our voice; transform society;
and actively engage with the world in order to affect mutual transformation:
BEGIN OR CONTINUE THE JOURNEY
You are warmly invited to use the resources at https://laudatosiactionplatform.org as you discern the next steps in the journey ahead.
“84… The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” and: “85. The Canadian bishops rightly pointed out that no creature is excluded from this manifestation of God: “From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe. It is also a continuing revelation of the divine”.”
“3.2.83. As the Bishops of Ontario (1998) stated:
“Our first concern is to remind all Roman Catholics of their duty to become informed, to vote and to be involved politically, at the very least in the sense of knowing the issues and the policies of the parties with regard to them. … Pope Pius XI spoke of "political charity" as one of the highest forms of the virtue of charity. In more recent times, the Church has told us that "a merely individualistic morality" will not suffice, and that Christians must "give an example by their sense of responsibility and their service of the common good." "Christians who take an active part in present day socio-economic development and fight for justice and charity should be convinced that they can make a great contribution to the prosperity of mankind and to the peace of the world". (The Church in the Modern World, No. 30, 75 and 72).” (emphasis added)”
Michael Swann wrote that John Milloy pleads “with Catholics to take politics seriously and regrets that Canadian Catholics who want to contribute to national debates aren’t getting a lot of help from their leaders right now. Canada’s bishops seem unable to publicly explain what they’re doing or why they’re doing it when it comes to the legacy of Indian residential schools, among other things, he said.” [I see some evidence that it might have started to change for the better since Milloy drafted his text.]
“There are some wonderful bishops out there and some incredible priests. But as a whole, I think they have to get their act together,” Milloy said. “Obviously in terms of reconciliation, but on a host of other issues.
He compares what comes out of the contemporary bishops’ conference with the bold statements of Pope Francis. “You read Fratelli Tutti. You read some of what Pope Francis is saying. Good grief, he knows his stuff. The world needs change. He’s addressing the big picture and we’re not doing that in Canada,” he said.
[I find Season of Creation and Laudato Si’ Action Platform are examples of the Canadian Bishops needing to step up their act to be more bold in the forefront to encourage the laity to take bold action especially in terms of political advocacy c/f Laudato si' n. 179. On the occasion of the third World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2017, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published a resource entitled Living Out Laudato Si': A Commentary and Practical Resource for Canadian Catholics but it did not mention the Season of Creation although it was first endorsed by Pope Francis in 2015 and fully supported by him ever since. But now what is called for is a more vigorous promotion of Season of Creation as called for in Msgr Duffé’s letter quoted previously].
On 1 Sept, finally thank God, my Diocesan blog (Victoria, BC) mentioned the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation 2021. Better late than never! But more lead time is required for parishes to gear up! Dioceses that failed to even mention it at all, fall under what Laudato Si’, Part VI called “Weak Responses”! Unfortunately the Canadian Bishops are not alone in not doing enough to vigorously promote this issue. Here are two American voices with the same concern: “Philip, the former NASA official who now heads the University of Notre Dame's academic excellence program, said the science and increasing signs of climate change impacts make it clear that aggressive actions are needed now — "not in 10, 20, 30 years, now" — and that the Laudato Si' Action Platform can play an important role.
"Quite honestly, we do not see the church collectively acting nearly quickly nor strategically enough on this issue, as she does with other issues, and we just don't get it," said Anna Johnson, a unit director for U.S. mission formation and young adult empowerment for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.
And as another American, Thomas Reese, SJ wrote: “My only consolation is that Catholicism, through the pope, is on the right side of history for once. Sadly, too few of our bishops are following him and doing anything about the crisis. When was the last time you heard your bishop [and I would add: or your pastor] speak out on climate change? [There are some who have: "When it comes to the environment, climate change is one of the most serious moral challenges we face," Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairs of the U.S. bishops' conference domestic and international justice committees, wrote in a statement for the day of prayer for creation. I mentioned the CCCB’s efforts earlier.]
As Pope Francis said [LS 217] concern for the environment can no longer be an optional or secondary aspect of Christianity. It must be central to who we are as Christians. We must care for God's creation; we must protect the Earth and all that lives on it. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will experience the apocalypse.” (emphasis added)]
Back to Milloy. In his view, there’s nothing more Catholic than politics. “When you start to worry about the environment, when you start to worry about poverty, when you start to worry about women in crisis who are pregnant, when you start to worry about not just being pro-birth but being clearly pro-life, you start to create the type of society that we’re called to build. Then we’re answering that pro-life call,” he said. [Amen to that!]
The CCCB did publish a 2019 Federal Election Guide (but as of time of writing, 3 Sept, I have not seen one for 2021). But in 2019 it was so general; ultimately it is up to us as individuals to make our own decisions based on our understanding and priorities. Since no one party will meet all our requirements we have to “hold our nose” while voting!
I would like to remind us that, as Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General (and a Canadian formerly with D&P/Caritas Canada) wrote , on politics as an act of love and courage: “Fratelli Tutti urges us all to make decisions for the “universal common good” by bringing us ever closer to our own responsibility in how we treat our “neighbour”. A healthy politics would transform our economy into one that “is an integral part of a political, social, cultural and popular programme”.”
Part 3: Bold action by young people raising their voices
In the face of social and environmental crises, the world would do well to follow the lead of its young people Pope Francis said in a video message to mark the start of the Season of Creation 2021. Here are three young women:
“If people would have listened back then, the world would be a completely different place than it is today. But the world ignored her, and world leaders continue to choose to look away from this crisis – even today.” Read more about Severn.
Canada Bankrolling Oil and Gas by $13 Billion a year.
Now is the time for the Government of Canada to begin to shift that into sustainable energy!
Andrew Conradi, ofs
3 Sept 2021