By Fr. Paul Hansen, C.Ss.R.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
A few years ago Pope Francis suggested that we are not going through an “Era of Change but rather a Change of Era.” My reading and listening has led me to believe that he is on to something here. The meta-narrative that I grew up and studied under no longer holds. Artists have indicated that “the centre no longer holds.” We are living in between narratives I do believe and an issue that is raising this sensitivity is that of Climate Change.
Laudato Si of Pope Francis raises the whole topic of Integral Ecology. To delve deeper into this awareness Religious and others committed to ecological justice were invited to take part in a seminar at the Mary Ward Centre in Toronto in February. Dr. Heather Eaton and Karri Munn-Venn guided us through the beginnings of a whole new meta-narrative.
Heather holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in theology, feminism and ecology from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and is a professor in Conflict Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa. She works in engaging religions on ecological, social and ethical issues.
Karri is the Senior Policy Analyst for Citizens For Public Justice. She provides leadership in organizational efforts to influence Canadian public policy with a focus on climate change.
Heather gave a public lecture on Feb. 7th and led a day’s workshop for leadership of Religious and those committed to Justice on Feb. 8th. She helped us appreciate that we are not separate from the earth but are the earth conscious. The world humus means earth. We humans are of the earth. We are not over and against the earth. This awareness must challenge our theological thinking and spirituality.
Citizens for Public Justice has mounted a campaign during Lent. As Christians we are called to respect the dignity of every human being as image-bearers of God. We have a duty also to act justly, care for creation and work for peaceful and just relations within society. Our economy, ecology and society are all wrapped up in one another. So we need to take a holistic approach that considers the health of the economy, and also the well-being of plants and animals in the natural environment, as well as the sustainable livelihoods, lifestyles, and health of individuals, families, communities and future generations.
To that end, a campaign is being mounted for Lent: “I pledge to Give It Up For The Earth.” I have sent out to our five parish communities pledges that can be realized privately at home and a tear off postcard that can be sent to our Minister Catherine McKenna to encourage our Canadian government to do all in its power to save the planet for future generations.
As Religious we are called to be a Prophetic Voice on Climate Change.