Church still learning to be environmentally on to it?

Fr Thobias Harman, OFM

A year after Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, the New Zealand Church is still in the process of learning of how to work together to bring about the changes the Holy Father called for. 

St Therese assistant parish priest Fr Joseph McKay, OFM, said a lot of individual Catholics have already responded to the Pope’s call.

“But as a Church, we are still working out what we can do together as individual parishes to fully express what the Pope was saying about how we as Christians relate to the environment and to celebrate it in changes to our daily life,” he said.

“That’s why it’s important to keep raising the issue of what the Pope had to say in the encyclical.”

St Therese parish in Mt Roskill participated in the global celebration marking the first anniversary of the encyclical’s release with a small event called God and the Land on June 14.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement said hundreds of parishes around the world held similar events in the week from June 12 to 18 to reflect on the Pope’s message. The Pope’s encyclical was released on June 18 last year.

In his presentation, Fr McKay stressed the Pope’s call to view the world in a different way.

“He said we’re stuck in a techno-economic paradigm that we only look at the value and costs of things. We try to price everything,” Fr McKay said.

“Also, from a scientific point of view, we try and understand things by breaking things into smaller and smaller pieces. This idea is actually limiting our view of the world,” he added.

Fr McKay also reiterated the Pope’s message of moving away from the throwaway culture.

“We’re looking at getting our meaning in life by collecting these things and if we don’t find our meaning, we throw them away. Unfortunately, we’re treating people the same way. We’re throwing away people as well,” he said.

Fr Thobias Harman, OFM, talked about his work with the farmers of Flores in Indonesia. He said the Franciscan friars are helping the farmers cut costs by using natural fertilisers and other environmentally friendly methods.

Afterwards, the group discussed what other parishes around the world are doing and seeing how they can be applied to their own parishes.

Fr McKay commented that the Pope also stressed the need for rest.

“He does emphasise the need to get away from our computers, to look at the world directly rather than through the Internet. Look at the world firsthand,” he said.

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Rowena Orejana

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