Bishop Robert Byrne, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle writes about Laudato Si' on its five-year anniversary.
It is now five years since the promulgation of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’. It is a prophetic document that has given a theological and spiritual framework to the environmental crisis facing our world which already effects our daily lives and will continue to do so in the future.
The Holy Father coined the now familiar phrase “our common home” which places the responsibility of the care of the environment on everyone. It is a responsibility we cannot avoid. He has been clear, in his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing on Easter Day concerning the coronavirus, that we must wake up to the damage being done to the natural world which is God’s creation and to the response of nature that we are now witnessing.
Damage to our common home has continued apace. In the last year alone we saw unprecedented flooding, drought, wildfires in Australia and California, continued deforestation and the burning of the Amazon unfolding before our eyes, cyclones devastating Mozambique, the outbreak of a global pandemic, a third mass bleaching of the great barrier reef, all causing suffering to our global family.
While we must certainly look to governments and industry to respond and help in the need to repair the damage of Climate Change, and we must rely on the advancement of technology to provide some of the means of such repair, it is evident that we all have an important and necessary part to play, as individuals and communities. The Pope has been clear in insisting that our care for our brothers and sisters and our common home depends upon our own personal daily actions and it is evident that, even by small and seemingly insignificant actions – when added together – we make an essential and tangible impact for the good. Technology can assist us but real progress must depend on our own actions.
The idea of our connectedness as human beings making up the human family is essential to understanding the plight we face. Of course, as Catholics we belong to a truly international family with direct connections throughout the globe. On a more local level we have our parish communities, bringing together families and individuals. We also have our schools, which bring together so many young people. Extending beyond our Catholic community, we have a considerable voice in civil society in matters spiritual, social and financial. We can make a difference if we work together.
I warmly welcome the initiatives being taken in our diocese to tackle these problems. I also want to thank all those clergy and lay faithful who are working hard in encouraging our Catholic family to be better “guardians of God’s creation”.
Bishop Robert Byrne CO
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
Saturday 16 May at 12pm noon
Fr. Adrian Tuckwell, Episcopal Vicar for Caritas. Watch on facebook on Saturday.
Sunday 24 May at 11am
Fr. Chris Hughes. Watch on facebook on Sunday 24 May.
Sunday 24 May at 3pm