“We are not separate from the earth, nor anything in it or on it. We need to uplift everyone and everything… uplift from meaninglessness.” I wish I had said that. A man named Louis Savary did, expanding on the thought of the Jesuit mystic Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin, Savary, Pope Francis along with convinced pioneers from many nations and academic disciplines urge people to renew the face of the Earth. We must do all we can to promote sustainable development, human ecology and a slowing of climate change. Pope Francis, speaking to an audience earlier this year, made an important connection for believers in our creative God: "A Christian who does not protect creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God.” It is not enough to buy environmentally friendly products and recycle, although these help. We need to dig deep, as it were, into the profound aspects of change and collective human discipline and harness our collective efforts so as hand over to future generations a treasured earth.
2015 will be a year of information, affirmation and action by many individuals and groups spurring on a common effort on behalf of our earth. Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment is due out this summer. He will also address the UN in September on this compelling issue in its multiple dimensions. The Milan Expo on Sustainability will focus world attention on the work before us. A Vatican Summit of the World’s Religions will add weight to the discussion, because, as the Earth Day Network holds, “faith leaders have been a driving force behind the most important and successful social movements.” Google The Earth Charter and see the work that has been I progress since the 1992 Rio Summit to develop a cohesive, clear set of goals to undergird efforts to treasure the earth. Here is a sampling of it’s core elements. Use them to guide your own thinking as we celebrate the 45th annual EARTH DAY on April 22nd:
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
2. Care for the community with understanding compassion and love.
3. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
4. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well –being.
5. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.
6. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.
7. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
8. Promote a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.
There are eight more points of this breadth and scope. Each sets forth objectives to make these goals reachable.
Gasp! You can’t. I can’t. But together we can move in this direction which is, if we think about it an outline of what the Kingdom of God will be like in its completion.
~Sister Joan Sobala