by MICHAEL FITZSIMONS
For the first time, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has included a commitment to caring for the environment as an integral part of its strategic plan for the next five years.
Caring for the planet is an essential part of living the Gospel today, said John Kennedy-Good, leader of the society’s social justice outreach.
“Vincentians are committed to living sustainably and responding to the challenges outlined in Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. In the words of the Pope: ‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.’”
Mr Kennedy-Good said the society will be asking young Vinnies to take the lead in developing a strategy for practical action in living sustainably and caring for the environment. Conference
members of the society will be invited to engage with that strategy.
“We will be encouraging all conference members to reflect on the Pope’s message in Laudato Si’ and to discuss ways they can respond as conferences and as individuals.” Mr Kennedy-Good said the society is well-placed to be an authentic voice advocating against wastefulness in New Zealand’s consumerist society.
“We are striving to be a leader in recycling second-hand goods through our extensive network of shops. We also want to reduce waste by improving sorting methods, expanding recycling opportunities and educating donors.”
Respect for the environment sits alongside respect for people in the society’s thinking, Mr Kennedy-Good said.
“We have to find the commitment and courage to act in this area, just as we do to be close to those who are vulnerable and lonely. We must move beyond words and take action to reduce our carbon
footprint and live sustainably. “Pope Francis puts it very powerfully: ‘The earth itself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor’.
“It is not an option to sit on the sidelines and do nothing while the overwhelming scientific consensus is that humankind is having a devastating impact on the environment in which we live.”