From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Ecological conversion: Called to hope, spurred to action
With these words, Pope Francis begins his momentous letter, “Laudato Si’ – On the Care of Our Common Home.” While a significant teaching for all Catholics on our responsibility to care for God’s creation, the Holy Father addresses the encyclical to “every living person on this planet” and invites all people of good will to act urgently on behalf of Earth, on behalf of future generations, and especially on behalf of justice for poor and marginalized people who are most impacted by the destructive power of climate change and environmental destruction.
We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation.” I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. (14)
Building a consensus for concrete action
Maryknoll missioners have been privileged to serve God’s people in many corners of the earth, most often on the margins with the people who are excluded from tables of power and whose lives are considered expendable in the dominant economic system. This lived experience of our missioners informs all the statements of Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, such as our 2009 reflection Global economy imperils Earth, humanity which parallels the message of Pope Francis: At the heart of the current global social and ecological crises is an economic system that tries to lock interconnected societies into unsustainable patterns of production, overconsumption and waste generation, all driven by the mandate to grow.
In preparation for this encyclical, a survey on the impact of climate change was sent to Maryknollers around the world; more than 100 missioners, Affiliates and staff responded, sending in their observations on issues ranging from access to water, access to food, air quality, sea levels and migration.
“Last year the monsoons were nowhere near as abundant as they usually are and since they are delayed this year, people are worried. … [but as we] experience a shortage of water in the major cities, the big rivers … and many of the tributaries are flowing full speed (from the melting snows in the Himalayas?) and gouging out great swaths of farm land, threatening a whole way of life for millions of people. Those who lose everything flock to Dhaka to seek work. This city of approximately 16 million is already crowded beyond belief. There is truly no room to spare, and still they come…”
Sr. Claudette LaVerdiere, MM, Bangladesh