By Vatican News
In the opening lines of his encyclical on the environment, Laudato sì, Pope Francis describes the earth as “burdened and laid waste, among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor”.
In their statement, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales return to that encyclical as they highlight the urgency of the current environmental crisis. The earth, they write, “cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our own irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
The Bishops go on to outline the extent of the ecological crisis, and to suggest a Catholic response. This includes inviting the Catholic community in England and Wales to take up the challenge to adopt a new lifestyle. “We the Bishops of England and Wales commit ourselves and invite our people to engage in this urgent challenge”, they write, “so that together we show leadership by our actions”.
Those actions include encouraging individuals, families and communities, to find more environmentally sustainable solutions. For example, Catholic churches and schools are gradually moving away from fossil fuels by switching to renewable gas and electricity. More than 4,500 have already done so.
The Bishops are also inviting Catholic communities to share their stories of successful environmental projects. These may be as easy as keeping a community garden, installing bike racks, going plastic free, finding innovative ways to reduce waste – or quite simply, planting a tree.