Bishops call for action in new environment document

Wednesday 5th October 2022

As another Season of Creation draws to a close, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has reissued a fundamental document highlighting our Christian call to care for creation.

The document, Call for Creation, was originally published in 2002, but it has been updated to better reflect the urgent and dire needs of today’s world.

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and environmental lead for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, co-wrote the introduction for this latest document, alongside Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of the Department for Social Justice at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The foreword reads: “The finishing touches were being made to this new edition of The Call of Creation as temperatures reached 40°C in our country for the first time. This not only broke all previous temperature records; it did so by some distance. This and other indicators demonstrate the urgency of needing to care properly for our common home.

“Jesus called on us to read the ‘signs of the times’. If we are to do that with integrity in our current age, we must surely realise that there is no time to delay and that our actions must be decisive.”

The introduction continues to examine a “broken relationship” with God’s creation, a culture and attitude that has caused so much damage to our environment and which “undermines our shared duty of stewardship of the natural world.”

It continues: “But we are a people of hope who believe in redemption. We must study the signs of the times and take the action that is needed to repair our relationship with God’s creation.

“Individual choices can seem insignificant when faced with major global challenges. But Pope Francis has rightly stated that multiplied individual actions can indeed make a real difference. As individual children of God, it is important that we think carefully about how we use consumer goods and value simplicity in our lives. We should also care for, and nurture, that part of God’s creation for which we are particularly  responsible. By doing this, collectively, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we can also help to change our culture.”

Despite the stark messaging of the foreword, Bishop John was eager to offer words of hope as he spoke about the document on the day of publication.

He said: “I think Christian hope has a great deal to do with this. We’ve not been defeated and Pope Francis is very clear: we live on in hope. But our hope can’t be something we just put nicely on the windowsill and say it will happen: we’ve got to be part of this.

“We’ve also got that sense of education going on, certainly among the young people in my diocese, I do feel a real enthusiasm.”

The document then continues with an in-depth exploration of the climate crisis and how our Catholic faith calls us to take action to care for our common home.

Using faith to underpin the message, the document looks at why we have a responsibility to care or our common home, how our actions have affected the earth, why the call to take action has deeply embedded moral and religious foundations, and ends with an invitation to consider how our lives impact the world in which we live.

The document ends: “The crisis we face is a summons to a profound interior conversion, whereby the effects of our relationship with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us.

“We, the Bishops of England and Wales, commit ourselves and invite our people to engage in this urgent challenge, so that together we show leadership by our actions. Let us pray for wisdom and courage for the path ahead.”

Bishop John added: “We’ve got to responsibly demonstrate what we believe. We’ve got to make sure this education goes on because when we know that we’re responsible, we can act more sincerely and constructively in our actions.

“It’s part of our theology and our spirituality and it underpins all the other problems in our world. We’re not going to solve poverty if we’ve not got an environment in which we can survive happily. We’re not going to solve people’s lack of clean water if we’re not caring for the environment. We’ve got to make sure that we know about our common home, that we appreciate the value of it, and that we’re going to look after it and repair it.”

Click here to read the full document.

To hear Bishop John talk more about the release of the document, click here.

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