(Source: Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference)
Larry Duffy, the Bishop of Clogher, has written a pastoral letter to all the people of the diocese and to all people of goodwill concerning the Season of Creation which is being marked throughout the month of September, concluding on 4 October – the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In the two-part letter, Bishop Duffy reminds people of the words of Pope Francis in his landmark encyclical letter of 2015, Laudato si’, calling all people to “urgent dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” adding “that we need a conversation which includes everyone, because the challenge we are facing affects us all.”
The current pandemic is also very much to the fore of Bishop Duffy’s thoughts at this time. He states:
“Today, our world continues to be deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic which has much in common with the environmental crisis. Many experts tell us that this pandemic is a symptom of a much wider ecological crisis. It has certainly shown us how deeply connected everything is, how vulnerable we are as human beings and how fragile is our world.
“A small invisible virus has stopped the world, forced us to go into lockdown. As we celebrate the Season of Creation this year, we are asked to stop and think about the type of world we want to return to when this crisis has passed.
“As a human family, we cannot be healthy if the planet is not healthy.”
Calling on people to examine lifestyles and to judge current practices, the bishop says that the crisis is also a social one.
“We must integrate questions of social justice into debates on the environment. Questions such as human rights abuses, the religious intolerance, discrimination, racism, the attacks on the life of the unborn and the denial of the right to life – these are all part of what Pope Francis calls ‘colonizing interests’ and ‘the throw-away culture’ underpinning our neglect of creation and the creator,” he says.
Bishop Duffy urges people to take action, adding that “hope is found in action.”
The theme for the Season of Creation in Ireland is “cultivating hope,” and Bishop Duffy invites local parishes and each individual to undertake new ways of doing things in order to save biodiversity.
For example, he suggests that each parish consider planting a native Irish tree during this Season of Creation, setting up a Laudato si’ reading group or a care for creation group in light of this special anniversary year for Laudato si’.
Noting that the crisis is also a spiritual one, the bishop urges people “to rediscover a sense of reverence for God, for the earth and for our brothers and sisters who are excluded and treated like second class citizens – at home or away from home, born and unborn. We share this responsibility with the whole Church.”
“We owe it to generations yet unborn to work together to sustain life on this planet, to protect God’s creation, our common home.”
The Diocese of Clogher has a Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation Group and Bishop Duffy invites new members to come forward.