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Making ‘Laudato Si’ a lived reality

By Susan Gately - 01 December, 2017

The 'Greening of the Church' must come from both the top and the bottom.

Following a recent in-service training day on the implications of Laudato Si for the Church attended by staff members of the Commissions of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Dr Lorna Gold from Trócaire, one of the presenters of the day, said that the ‘Greening of the Church’ must come from both the top and the bottom.

Speaking to CatholicIreland, she said that more often in fact, the impulse to live out the Pope’s encyclical comes from the base – from parishes like Prosperous in Kildare and Shankhill, south county Dublin, where Laudato Sí groups meet to study the letter and its implications.

“From my experience there is a lot going on already. It is a case of what is happening in parishes filtering up rather than down! One example is the event that took place recently in Cloghjordan. Over a hundred people turned up from Cashel and Emly and Killaloe dioceses for a workshop on Laudato Sí.”

Similarly, over a hundred people came to a recent event in Trinity College on linking Laudato Sí and climate ambition. “There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm in many parishes, dioceses and especially within religious orders to put it into action,” said Dr Gold. Parishes that study Laudato Si often go on to get involved in the eco parish award programme, run by Eco-congregations in collaboration with Trócaire (see http://ecocongregationireland.com).

Trócaire has recently launched a new report  focusing on the need for faith-based organisations to re-consider their financial investments in the light of climate change and Laudato Sí.

Dr Lorna Gold

“We are calling on all faith-based organisations to undergo a process of review and to respond to Pope Francis’ call  to ‘move away from highly polluting fossil fuels -without delay’,” said Dr Gold.

So far, the Christian Brothers European Province and the Presentation Sisters have responded by committing to divest. “We are hopeful many more Irish congregations and dioceses will respond,” added Dr Gold.  The next Catholic divestment call is on the 22nd April 2018.

Around 20 members from the bishops conference staff took part in the in-service training day, with another ten participants coming from a  Laudato Sí working group established by the bishops last year.  This group includes representatives from Trócaire and prominent lay people working in the fields of theology, ecology and climate change such as Professor John Sweeney (climatologist), Fr. Sean McDonagh (ecologist), and Prof. Rev Dermot Lane (theologian). The group has  been working to produce a work plan for implementing Laudato Sí across the country.

According to Dr. Gold, the day was a mix of reflection and reconnection with nature, and  practical sessions “on what each of us can do to change our behaviour”.

One idea that emerged from the day was ensure that the World Meeting of Families is “as sustainable as possible” and to, “perhaps, work with the Global Catholic Climate Movement, who have been working to make sure Papal visits are as eco-friendly as possible”. Other considerations included ensuring that the workings of the ‘home’ of the bishops conference, the Columba Centre in Maynooth, are more sustainable.

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