Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor reinforces the urgent need to respond to the social, economic and ecological issues facing the world today.
As the statement outlines, the millennium drought, the 2019-20 bushfire season, COVID-19 and the 2021 floods have all raised questions for many Australians about our common home.
‘In response to these events, Catholic agencies developed better ways of coordinating emergency help. However, planning at the national level for mitigation and adaptation to the changing frequency and intensity of severe weather events, and a just transition to a low carbon economy is also needed,’ the statement says.
‘We also know that the safety, health and livelihoods of those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities are usually the most severely impacted. That is why Pope Francis often speaks of responding to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’
Launching the document on August 5, the ACBC announced its commitment to putting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ into action. Over the next seven years the bishops will work towards seven goals identified in the encyclical, namely: responding to the cry of the earth; responding to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; adopting simple lifestyles; ecological education; ecological spirituality; and community involvement and participatory action.
“We are facing an ecological crisis and Pope Francis wants the whole Church globally to act with a greater sense of urgency,” said Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.
“In Australia, 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.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been caring for 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.”
Through the statement the bishops have invited Catholics to ‘uncover the sacramentality of creation’ in recognising the divine presence in the world, and to respond with wonder and awe. They call for a ‘profound conversion expressed in a new way of living, both personally and collectively’.
‘We are being called to a new way of thinking, feeling, understanding and living,’ the statement says.
‘A huge international database of action ideas is being constructed and will continue to be developed to help participants in their journeys. It will be available to the public, and not restricted to those who have formally registered for the journey,’ the statement says.
‘Families, parishes, dioceses, schools, universities and colleges, hospitals and healthcare organisations, businesses and farms, and religious from all over the world are all invited to join the journey.
‘Expressions of interest for the first cohort undertaking a seven year journey towards the Laudato Si’ goals are now open. Each year for six more years there will be another, larger intake, building towards achieving critical mass.’
Bishop Long said his hope was that 2021/22 statement would “encourage ever deeper and more effective Christian responses to the urgent cries of the earth and of the poor”.
At the launch Bishop Long also announced that the Bishops Conference’s Office for Social Justice will now be known as the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace – affirming “social justice, ecology and peace are inseparable”.
Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor can be downloaded at www.socialjustice.catholic.org.auJump to next article