To coincide with the beginning of the Season of Creation 2021, from 1 September to 4 October, Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin has published a pastoral letter on the climate crisis and on how Christians ought to respond to this global dilemma facing our global civilisation.
Offering background to the letter, Archbishop Farrell said, “We are living on the edge of huge historical change. Our common home, indeed our only home—this planet—is under threat. Our lifestyles, and the economies which support them are contributing significantly to climate change, and to the crisis it is causing: the many wildfires raging in these days, the melting of the polar caps, the rise of sea levels, the loss of biodiversity, and the depletion of the soil on which life depends. The future of life on this earth, which God created and which “he saw was good” (Genesis 1:21, 25), hangs in the balance. Humans are unequivocally driving global warming. It is beyond doubt that climate change is being caused by what we have done—and continue to do—in upsetting nature’s equilibrium and balance.
Speaking on the inspiration behind his pastoral letter, the Archbishop of Dublin said, “This pastoral letter, which I have titled, The Cry of the Earth, the Cry of the Poor, approaches the climate catastrophe from the perspective of faith. That is not to say, it excludes the insights and contribution of the natural sciences. On the contrary, healthy faith takes on board what God says through creation (see Dei Verbum §3). Faith and science are not opponents; in a truly Christian view, faith and reason—fides et ratio—go hand in hand. God reveals himself through the world. That is the heart of our Catholic faith. Scientists have issued a “code red” not just for the environment, but for humanity itself. God now calls us, individually and collectively, to work for the good of the planet and the good of all. Let us not fool ourselves: there can be no enduring response to the cry of the earth without responding to the need for justice and dignity.”
In conclusion, Archbishop Farrell suggested that “one possible next step for communities and parishes might be to consider signing the ‘Healthy Planet—Healthy People’ petition. Endorsed by the Holy See, this petition, aimed at the UN Climate Conference (Cop 26), advocates for an agreement that limits warming to 1.5 degrees, while protecting and supporting those most affected by the climate crisis. The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor go hand in hand. For the Holy See the ‘Healthy Planet—Healthy People’ petition is a key advocacy action for this year’s Season of Creation. Communities, people in parishes and dioceses, as well as religious congregations, are encouraged to sign the petition by going to www.healthyplanetandpeople.org.”
For the full pastoral letter, click here.