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Bush fires in Australia Bush fires in Australia  (AFP or licensors)

Australian Bishops call for action to care for earth and poor

In its 2021-2022 Social Justice Statement launched Thursday, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference highlights its ambitious commitment to a more sustainable Church based on Pope Francis encyclical Laudato si’.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor: That’s the title of the annual social justice statement issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on Thursday, affirming its commitment to a more sustainable Church.

Drawing from Pope Francis’ encyclical on creation and our common home, the bishops commit to a seven-year journey towards seven Laudato si’ Goals.

Ecological crisis

In recent times, Australia has faced a number of natural disasters including, the millennium drought, the 2019-2020 bushfire season, the 2021 flood, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are facing an ecological crisis and Pope Francis wants the whole Church globally to act with a greater sense of urgency,” says Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.

“In Australia," he adds, "passionate individuals, religious institutes, schools and organisations have been working on ecological issues for a long time. I want to affirm and thank them all, and to urge the whole Catholic community to join them.”

Listening to one another

Bishop Long points out that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been caring for the country from time immemorial. The rest of us need to listen, and to learn how we can walk together to care for the whole of creation – including one another.”

The statement says that people are being “called to a new way of thinking, feeling, understanding and living.”

It also explains that the Laudato Si’ Goals “aim to put Pope Francis’ [2015] encyclical into practice, making communities around the world sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of Laudato Si’”.

With this in mind, the bishops are inviting Catholics to “uncover the sacramentality of creation” in recognising the divine presence in the world, and to respond with wonder and awe.”

Bishop Long says it’s his “hope is that Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor will encourage ever deeper and more effective Christian responses to the urgent cries of the earth and of the poor.”

Action platform

Families, schools, parishes, dioceses and organisations are also being urged to join the bishops in signing up to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

The statement says the platform, an initiative of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will gather ideas for action from around the globe to help participants in their journeys. The Bishops Conference’s Office for Social Justice has been involved in developing the platform.

The launch of the statement also coincides with the a new name change. The Australian Bishops Conference’s office for Social Justice will now be known as the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace.

05 August 2021, 13:25