Living Laudato Si – An Integral Ecological Journey
The science is clear. Scientists have been warning us for more than two centuries (e.g., German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt 1769-1859) that the capitalist model of economic development, which necessitates overconsumption, has meant that “our house”, as the young climate activist Greta Thunberg has oft been quoted, “is on fire”. The much anticipated 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), where global leaders met in Glasgow in November 2021 to agree on measures to protect the planet and its people from overheating, has proven ineffective. It is clear that responding to these crises demands concerted, revolutionary shifts in our thinking and action at all levels of society. And Pope Francis makes this clear:
“all of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution” (LS114).
Most of us will be familiar with Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato Si (2015). In this “document, addressed to all people of good will” (LS62), he recognises the complex and multiple environmental, climactic and social crises that plague ‘our common home’ today. Critical to the messaging within Laudato Si, is the recognition that all living forms are related to the other – we are all ‘interconnected’. We as human beings, are just one part in this intricate, spectacular web of life. Pope Francis clearly demonstrates how the destruction of one part, has devastating consequences for the other. Pioneering in its communication, Pope Francis corroborates that we cannot respond to ‘the cry of the earth’ (as demonstrated today through climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, desertification, soil erosion, etc.,) without seeking justice for the ‘cry of the poor’ (expressed through the intensification of global conflicts, hunger, poverty, migration, violation of human rights, compounded by the enduring threats to global democracy and peace).
In Laudato Si, Pope Francis outlines how we have failed in our responsibilities to protect ‘our common home’ and all those that inhabit it. Yet, he remains hopeful that all is not lost, “for we know that things can change” [LS13]. We do, however, have an “urgent challenge to protect our common home … to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development” [LS13].
In Laudato Si, he proposes a transformative approach in how we – that is all humanity – must respond to these challenges. He charts us a new journey of ‘integral ecology’ to ensure the sustainability of our common home and a safe and just future for the youth of tomorrow.
“…nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (LS165).
During the month of Advent (2021) AMRI embarked on “An integral ecological journey” in exploring and sharing some of the ways in which AMRI members are “Living Laudato Si”.
AMRI Advent Series: Living Laudato Si
On the first week of Advent, we journey with Fr. Brendan McManus SJ, who shares unique experiences in his ecological awakening:
On the second week of Advent, we walk with Frs Seamus O’Neil and Pat Murphy SPS at St. Patrick’s Kiltegan, to explore their journey in responding to the call of ecological conversion, by seeking ways of producing energy from renewable sources.
On the third week of Avent, AMRI Justice, Peace and Ecology Coordinator shares her experience of ecological discovery after her visit to An Tairseach Organic Farm and Ecology Centre (https://antairseach.ie/) .
Continuing with the theme of caring for our common home, we journey to the Cabragh Wetlands in Co Tipperary, where Fr. Michael Long SPS, explores our interconnectedness with the biosphere, along with our story of creation.
Fr. Michael reflects on the vulnerability of all of nature and highlights the human impact on biodiversity and the urgency with which we must shift our consciousness toward an ecological conversion. He notes how this season of Advent is an ideal time to consider this transformation.
“At this time of year, you’re heading into winter. Nature is quiet. Nature is resting. The earth is resting… as it awaits the return of the sun to illuminate the earth and bring back life. At this time of Advent, we too are in expectant mode as we await the arrival of the Son of God.”
Fr. Michael Long, Cabragh Wetlands Centre
The Cabragh Wetlands Trust was established in 1993 to support the devastation of wetland habitats after the filling-in of the settling pools by the closure in 1989 of the Thurles Sugar Factory. The wetlands are situated in the floodplain of the River Suir just 4km south of Thurles in Co Tipperary and is a critical part of the river catchment in terms of its support to biodiversity. It encompasses some 15 different habitats including ponds, reed swamps, hedgerows, streams and wildflower meadows. Cabragh Wetlands is considered by BirdWatch Ireland to be one of the best locations in the country for birdwatching and insect spotting! For more information see Cabragh Wetlands at: http://www.cabraghwetlands.ie/blog/