Our Common Home
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.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si 217
In this current time when Earth, our common home and its citizens are facing the COVID pandemic and threats to its environment, it is important for us to hear again these challenging words of Pope Francis, take them to heart and to do something about them.
There is a sense of urgency in the recent report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it drew attention to the dangers of failing to address the issues associated with climate change and its consequences for future generations.
There is the same urgency in the video Pope Francis released for Earth Day 22 April 2021, when he said, Both the global catastrophes, Covid and climate change, prove that we do not have time to wait. Time urges us, and as COVID-19 demonstrated, we do have the tools to face the loss. We have the instruments. This is the moment to act. We are at the edge. …. We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, purer and that it is conserved. We must care for nature so that nature may care for us.
Cry of the Earth Cry of the Poor, this year’s Social Justice Statement from the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference is one response to that call for action. The celebration of the Season of Creation, a world-wide ecumenical initiative is another.
In his introduction Archbishop Mark Coleridge said that the Social Justice Statement seeks to discern the signs of the times and, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to recognise how God is calling us to respond. As bishops our task is to bring the light of the Gospel to bear as we seek to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.
The Statement’s first section, 'The Signs of the Times through the Eyes of those Most Affected', relates the experiences of a seasoned firefighter during the devastating bushfires of 2019-2010, of a farming family battling the millennium drought and of a coal miner anxious about the demise of his community when the mine closes.
It then proceeds to point out how our faith provides wisdom sources that can help us to take our next steps now. It draws on wisdom from Scripture, our theological tradition, Catholic Social Teaching, and human knowledge to water the seeds of change. It also acknowledges the wisdom of our First Peoples and their knowledge of the land.
The Statement ends with the call to care for creation that goes to the heart of what it means to be human before God and in the world. It requires a profound conversion expressed in new ways of living, both personally and collectively. And asks, What seeds of change can we water today?
The Season of Creation celebrated from 1 September to 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, calls every Christian household and society to repent and reshape its political, social and economic systems towards just, sustainable economies of life which respect the life-giving ecological limits of our common home. The 2021 theme is A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.
The hope is that this Season of Creation renews our ecumenical unity, in our baptismal call to care and sustain an ecological turning that will ensure all creatures can find their home to flourish, and participate in renewing the oikos of God.
Maureen Salmon rsj