Spanish Church groups have deplored the world’s model of “predatory development” and the “avalanche of consumerism”.

– Catalan priests, religious and laypeople publish “Commitment to an integral ecology” manifesto

On the occasion of Laudato si’ Week from May 16-24, priests, religious, laymen and laywomen of congregations and movements of the Catalan Church made public May 15 their manifesto “Commitment to an integral ecology”.

In their manifesto, commemorating the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ ‘green’ encyclical on care for our Common Home, the Catalan Catholics denounced that “in recent years the factors leading to the breakdown of the balances that make the Earth sustainable have worsened and the consequences for the world’s poorest countries and communities are becoming increasingly serious”.

The Catalan priests, religious and laypeople also decried that “our model of predatory development and our consumerist lifestyle cause serious and growing damage to ecosystems and biodiversity, promote social exclusion and cause climate change that forces entire populations to move to other territories for survival”.

Furthermore, they noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “has once again shown the deep interdependence of the human family and the necessary co-responsibility of all in the destiny of humanity, and has offered us a new opportunity to advance in the construction of a more just and fraternal world”.

– “We are not the masters of the Earth, authorised to plunder it, but instead guests and pilgrims”

For all of those reasons, the Catalan Catholics, in their manifesto, issued a call to the faithful “to defend with our attitudes and life choices our Common Home and each of the humans who inhabits it”.

Recalling that the Bible, from the Old to the New Testaments, clearly sets out that humans “are not the masters or rulers of the Earth, authorised to plunder it” but instead “guests and pilgrims” on our planet called to be its zealous caregivers, the Catalan Catholics called on all Christians to assume, “in the face of the avalanche of consumerism, a lifestyle that is cheerfully sober, simple, contemplative and in solidarity with those who have little or nothing”.

Part of that sober Christian lifestyle, the Catalan Catholics said, involves a commitment to “reduce the production of waste and the use of plastics, opt for renewable energies, opt for social and solidarity economy companies and ethical finance, encourage the production and marketing of agro-ecological and local products, use public transport whenever possible and… support initiatives that promote a new economy and a new model of development based on the common good and integral ecology”.

A life in accordance with a deep commitment to the Earth must involve, the Catalan Catholics said, a choice to “stand by those who are persecuted for their prophetic service of denouncing and repairing injustices” done to the Earth, children and migrants, “to cultivate true friendships with the poor” and in parish contexts “to make every possible effort to promote, deepen and put in practice Pope Francis’ urgent call for an integral ecological conversion”.

– Spanish Justice and Peace Commission: “The health catastrophe has much to do with the ecological catastrophe”

Another Spanish group making its own Pope Francis’ call to adopt an integral ecology is the Spanish Church’s Justice and Peace Commission.

Isabel Cuenca, the secretary general of the Commission, said in an interview May 19 that Laudato si’ “at a global level had a huge impact and many actions have been taken to make it known”.

“There have been very important social encyclicals with broad repercussions: Pacem in Terris, Populorum Progressio, Caritas in Veritatis, to name but a few, but none like this”, Cuenca explained.

Having said that, though, the Spanish Justice and Peace Commission secretary general acknowledged that “there’s still a long way to go” in giving Laudato si’ the exposure it deserves.

“For example, there are still many people who think that [Laudato si’] is an encyclical on ecology, when in reality it is a social encyclical in which the Pope explained perfectly that Creation, as a gift from God to all of us, is something that we must care for, and that we must take on this care as an essential part of the commitment of our faith”, Cuenca said.

“The main victims of climate change will be the poorest and most vulnerable. That is why the Pope speaks in the encyclical of hearing ‘the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor'”, she warned.

In Laudato si’ and in other places “the Pope… says that everything is connected”, Cuenca recalled.

“At this time of pandemic in which the economic crisis is global and is hitting hard the poorest and most vulnerable, the encyclical offers a vision of how to make the world more just and sustainable”, she explained, adding that “the health catastrophe has much to do with the ecological catastrophe and both will be resolved with the efforts of all, keeping in mind that we are God’s instruments for the care of the world”.

– Spanish Bishops’ president laments requests for help from Caritas have tripled in COVID-19

Cuenca’s warning on the COVID-19 “catastrophe” also came as Barcelona archbishop and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Juan José Omella, recalled that in these days of the pandemic, Spanish Caritas has alerted of a “threefold increase in the number of requests from people who can no longer cope and who come to the door of the organizstion and other NGOs to ask for help with food, housing and survival”.

“We must always ensure that the dignity of the person is above everything else”, Omella insisted, repeating his call for a universal basic wage.

“A decent salary, decent work and decent housing. This must be ensured as far as possible for everyone”, the cardinal implored.

“If at any time someone cannot get that, we must help them. That is solidarity. We must help them to have a decent job, a decent house and a decent salary. We have to help others in the most difficult moments so that they can be the protagonists of their own lives and their own work”, Omella concluded.

More on Novena for Laudato si’ Week:

Malta Church Justice and Peace Commission laments: “When the environment is exploited, the first ones to suffer are the poor”

German archbishop denounces “selfish” attitude of rich countries during pandemic having “frightening” effect on poor

“Solidarity to create a new world”: Vatican invites planet to 7-year ‘Laudato Si” “action platform”

Barcelona cardinal hits out at capitalism, supports universal basic wage

“We have to stop our ecological spiral of death”: faith groups from 14 countries announce divestment from fossil fuels

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.