New Luxembourg cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich is warning of the prospect of “terrible disaster” if the world and the Church don’t commit to a “radical” ecological conversion.
Driving the news
Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, spoke to SIGNIS just after he was raised to the red hat last Saturday October 5.
“Integral ecology, that is, an ecology in which human beings are at the centre of Creation, is of paramount importance. If we fail to experience an ecological conversion, we are going to a terrible disaster”, the new cardinal warned.
Hollerich also explained the significance of this month’s Amazon Synod in Rome.
“First of all, it is a Synod on the Amazon, so I think that the people who now come with all the European problems are a little wrong”, he affirmed, on the meet’s importance.
“Of course, as a second step, we can look at Europe and the other continents, but as a first step, we must deal with the Amazon and find solutions to the current situation”.
The Luxembourg prelate furthermore again expressed his support for the “Fridays for Future” youth movement.
“Young people are absolutely right” to fight for the climate, the cardinal said.
He added that “they have my full support and sympathy”, though he explained he personally was not taking part in the Friday demonstrations, “because I think it could be seen as the Church trying to hijack the movement, which would not be very honest”.
Hollerich said he felt “challenged” by the youth movement for the environment, because “I must change some of my habits. And I realize is not at all easy”.
“They are the little things. The ecological conversion must begin there. If it does not happen in the little things, it is not real. And young people deserve it. It is a sign of love”.
The cardinal insisted that “you can’t love someone if you’re not listening and if you’re not ready to change”.
“I think that the Church is committed to fully empower young people and this must be shown in a radical ecological conversion so that young people can have a future on this Earth”.
Why it matters
Hollerich revealed that a few environmentally-damaging habits he has been motivated to change include getting rid of a capsule coffee machine and plastic water bottles and using an electric car, when he can.
“However, I still have a guilty conscience because I travel a lot by plane”, he admitted.
The cardinal added that another gesture he is planning for next year, for the 150th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Luxembourg, is the planting of 150 trees.
“I am absolutely convinced of this. We cannot talk about the small problems of the Church if there is such a big problem for all humanity” as environmental degradation, he explained.
“We must start by solving the major problems, which does not mean that the others are not important, but the major problems must come first”.
Hollerich concluded by calling on politicians and the Church to be a force for real change for the environment.
“Policies will only work if people are willing to make an ecological conversion”, he warned.
“Politicians must see that the most important thing for people in Europe is that our Earth can have a future”.
In terms of what Catholics can do, he said “the Church must always emphasise that the victims are the poor”.
“Rich countries will always be able to protect themselves: the Netherlands will be able to build dikes, Japan will be able to protect itself, etc. But what about the islands in the Pacific, for example?”, he asked.
“The Church in the European Union must, therefore, also be the voice of poor countries. In the end, we have taken advantage of others, it is now time to give back to others”, Hollerich affirmed.