NAIROBI, Kenya (CWR) –Archbishop Bert Van Megen, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, urged world Catholic youth to use all means of communication to spread the message of Laudato Si’, at an event marking the fourth anniversary of the papal encyclical.
Nearly 350 young leaders from more than 50 countries met on July 15-16 for the second international interfaith conference on the encyclical, held at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi.The conference met under the theme “Laudato Si’ Generation: Young People Caring for Our Common Home” to discuss the encyclical and to consider ecological questions and practices.
Megen said the papal letter as a wake-up call for all people, especially youth, to step up action against what he described as a “global ecological crisis.”
“Any action undertaken now will benefit especially you, the youth, as the next generation of persons taking responsibility for the well-being of the human family,” said Megen at the conference, which also coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA).
According the archbishop, the much-discussed letter by Pope Francis urges the world to respond adequately to the environmental crisis facing humanity, and to combine theory and practice in the response.
“We cannot just talk without action. We need to turn our words into action, into solemn commitment for the betterment of the world,” said Megen.
The UN’s Faith for Earth Initiative, CYNESA, World Wildlife Fund, Young Muslim Association, and Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development had partnered to host the event, which brought together young leaders from various interfaith groups, indigenous people, and environmental organizations.
In the encyclical released four years ago, Pope Francis stated, “Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change.”
The pontiff emphasized that it is important for people to consider making personal choices that could contribute to the greater good rather than the gratification of our short-term desires. What “they all need,” he wrote, “is an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”
Joyce Msuya, the deputy executive director of the UN Environment told participants of the conference that rising temperatures, devastating floods, prolonged droughts, and melting glaciers in the Arctic were warning signs of the “undeniable truth” that the planet is sick.
“I find hope,” said Msuya, a Tanzanian microbiologist, “in the forty Catholic institutions that have already announced plans to divest from oil and gas, and many other faith based groups around the world that are considering the same…” Msuya stated that she found hope in Pope Francis, who has spoken so strongly about the climate emergency, and who has encouraged young people to head a movement to make a difference.
“I find hope in Laudato Si’” she stated, “[a document] …that appeals to each of us to care for our common home.”
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, sent Monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffe’, the Dicastery’s Secretary, to represent him at the event.
“As members of the common human family, we are here to reflect on the precarious state of our common planetary home, and to articulate concrete responses to heal and rebuild,” said Turkson, while describing the current global crisis as intricate, complex, and many-sided.
He said the rising global temperatures are driving the planet to the breaking point, with many people living on the coastlines and in poor countries being placed in increasingly vulnerable situations.
Turkson quoted a 2018 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that planetary temperatures are approaching the 1.5 Degrees Centigrade threshold, above the pre-industrial levels. The threschold is outlined in the Paris Agreement, a pact under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which seeks to reduce emission of gases that contribute to global warming. Turkson had quoted Pope Francis as saying that the world faces a climate emergency that could turn into a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.
“Those who contributed the least to this crisis should not be the ones paying the highest price,” said Turkson.
The Cardinal called on nations to address the growing biodiversity crisis, saying an estimated one million animals and plants with the risk of extinction.
According to Turkson, scientists were calling for an international agreement to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s ecosystem by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.
“This is essential not only for mitigating the sixth mass extinction event we are undergoing, but it is also essential for achieving the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5 C,” said Turkson, “as natural habitats also have an irreplaceable role as carbon sink that can absorb the carbon pollution plaguing our atmosphere.”
He had called for special attention on the protection of the rights of indigenous communities which care and protect forests as gifts from God and sacred places.
The conference had adopted an interfaith approach, with Muslims, Hindus, and leaders from indigenous communities being invited to speak.
“While its certainly true that a greater portion of responsibility lies on those countries with higher pollution rates,” said Sheikh Hassan Kinyua, a leader from Kenya‘s Young Muslim Association, “it remains an inconvenient truth that many of the poorest people … suffer the consequence of … irresponsible and indulgent lifestyle choices.” He said that there is no room for inaction or passivism, as God is watching.
Religions and science, observed some of the participants, can find a meeting point in the effort to mitigate against the global ecological crisis, which they say threatens to annihilate humanity.
“The church is committed to playing her part in raising the awareness and advocating for action, while accompanies local communities with their struggles,” Cardinal Turkson stated, “The upcoming Synod of the bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region to happen in October 2019, will be a milestone in this journey.”
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We read that “In the encyclical released four years ago, Pope Francis stated, ‘Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change.’”
So far, so good….In a compact world, the alarm about possible de facto triage of vulnerable regions and even populations is a serious one. Not quite like direct sins of commission as in abortion and genocide, but still increasingly culpable as sins of omission.
Nevertheless, helpful to the credibility of the Church’s voice and initiatives would be greater clarity between: (1) environmental degradation versus climate change, (2) the still-evolving science of climate change versus concrete exhortations, (3) moral theology versus “integral ecology”, and (4) interreligious collaboration versus syncretism as is apparent in the working paper for Amazonia.
Clerics wax presumptively scientific (Galileo watches!) when Laudatio Si suggests that climate change can be “reversed” by human action (n. 175) rather than only moderated (due to both human and natural causes). While our global ecological footprint is likely overextended, Laudatio Si still seemed hastily cobbled together at some key and complex points, just in time for the Paris Climate Accord.
The benefit identified here from greater clarity is NOT to deny or relax on prudential actions, but partly to invite a more resilient framing of both corrective AND adaptative actions.
Moreover, the necessary MORAL CONTEXT for mobilizing young and future generations is developed in St. John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor (1993) which, in turn, simply expands upon the prescient St. John XXIII in 1961:
“But whatever be the situation, we clearly affirm these problems should be posed and resolved in such a way that man does not have recourse to methods and means contrary to his dignity . . .” (Mater et Magistra, n. 191).
Caring for our common through deeds and not only words is the way forward.
One wishes that these churchmen could find some time in their busy schedules to actually preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t that be something !
It’s good to see the youth of the world embrace paganistic worship of the earth, in the absence of any crisis at all. Only the young are foolish enough to go for this weirdness.
“Only the young are foolish enough to go for this weirdness.”
Unfortunately, that does not seem to be ture.
Or even true.
Cardinal Peter Turkson considered a papacy candidate is a strong advocate for ecological issues and equitable distribution of wealth, according to some placing him front and centre with the Pope’s New Paradigm Church. That seems partly true. “Turkson’s focus on social justice issues puts him on the more liberal end of the spectrum, as far as the Catholic Church’s hierarchy is concerned. ‘He’s pretty radical on a lot of peace and justice stuff- start him talking about capitalism, and he’s going to sound like Noam Chomsky,’ said Allen [reference to John Allen Crux]. But a liberal cardinal is still pretty conservative in the grand scheme of things, and Turkson has generated anger from some corners for comments seen as equating homosexuality to pedophilia in an interview with CNN, and questioning whether gay rights should be viewed as basic human rights, as reported in a National Catholic Register article (Scott Detrow E&E.). Cardinal Turkson also openly tows the traditional line in prohibition of the use of contraceptives. A rarity among Western prelates. That Turkson Prefect Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development sent the Dicastery’s secretary to represent him perhaps indicates distance from the New Paradigm agenda in light of Amazonia. We can be veritably certain that few if any African prelates however Liberal would condone the Amazonia Instrumentum. Nonetheless if the Cardinal’s more traditional views would have us believe he is reticent toward Amazonia’s agenda Cardinal Turkson evidently quashes that belief, “The church is committed to playing her part in raising the awareness and advocating for action, while accompanies local communities with their struggles. The upcoming Synod of the bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region to happen in October 2019, will be a milestone in this journey.” In a Catholic Church rival to Byzantium jettisoning doctrine to retain upward mobility, to remain papabile is the new norm. Or to be truly Byzantine a ploy to keep up appearances to be later abandoned. As with the example of our present master of such intrigue. I dislike commenting on Church politics though the threatening moral climate warrants it. Awareness of the impending Darkness that many of the brightest are drawn into compels us to draw closer to Christ.
A distinction must be made between Conservationism (caring for the environment for moral and practical reasons) and Environmentalism (which is basically a pseudo scientific neo paganistic Gaia worship cult). As Chesterton noted, when caring for the planet we must refer to SISTER Earth, not Mother Earth.
When all youth have been corrupted into serving the Father of Lies, now with the encouragement of the so-called leader of the Catholic Church, they haven’t a clue that by “saving the earth”, not only will the human species become extinct if the plans of the extremist’s are fully implemented, but more importantly, their eternal life will be an existence so much worse than they can imagine.