By Lisa Zengarini
The call for an urgent ecological conversion will be the focus of the 43rd annual conference of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales (NJPN) this year.
The event will take place 23-25 July in Derbyshire on the theme "2021: Life on Earth – moment of truth", highlighting that the ecological conversion called for six years ago by Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato si' is now “a matter of life and death.”
UN summits on climate change and biodiversity
The conference will convene ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference, which will be held 11-24 October in Kunming, China, and the Climate Conference (COP-26), scheduled 9-20 November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The summits are expected to make important decisions on urgent measures to be taken to slow global warming and to reverse biodiversity loss impacting on ecosystems, species and people.
These decisions “will be critical for salvaging a viable future”, the NJPN points out, recalling that this is also the year when the Vatican Dicastery of Human Development is inviting us to embark on a journey through the Laudato si’ Action Platform’, to be launched on 24 May 2021.
“We will seize this moment of grace for the changes and choices now confronting us,” says NJPN.
Need for structural change and simpler lifestyles
The conference will therefore address structural change and simpler lifestyles to protect our common home. It will push for fossil fuel disinvestment by more Church groups as part of the rise of institutional shareholder activism.
Churches will be encouraged to join the sustainability revolution and demonstrate in liturgies that there is engagement with “the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor”.
More parishes will be encouraged to join the "Livesimply" programme, which already involves more than 90 parishes and schools across England and Wales.
Deeper commitment for our Common Home
The aim is to launch a decade of transformative action – in lives and communities. The conference will discern how to deepen commitment to build a world where all of God’s creation can live in peace and prosperity.
Participants will be provided with resources to work together to make this vision a reality.
Bishop John Arnold of Salford, the lead bishop on the environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), will celebrate Mass for the conference.
Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD, the Bishops’ Agency for Overseas Development, will chair the proceedings.
Liturgies will be led by Colette Joyce, Justice and Peace Fieldworker in Westminster Diocese, in collaboration with liturgical composer and pastoral musician, Marty Haugen, who will participate online. He has written a special chant ‘For Our Common Home’ for the occasion.
A keynote speaker at the event will be Chair of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and author, Lorna Gold. Her book, ‘Climate Generation: Awakening to Our Children’s Future’ highlights stories of people who are doing amazing things to tackle the climate crisis.
Other speakers include Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change and Spiritan Missionary, and theologian Fr Eamon Mulcahy.