The Laudato Si Centre

Friday 12th April 2019

This Lent the parishes and schools of the diocese were asked by Bishop John to take the environmental crisis more seriously and to make small changes in their own lives that would make a difference. The Bishop didn’t just ask others to make changes he has responded to his own challenge by beginning a major environmental project in the grounds of his residence, Wardley Hall.

The Laudato Si Centre is an exciting and new initiative to be based at Wardley Hall. The Centre seeks to respond to the challenge of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and human ecology, by creating a space for practical action to care for our common home, which will help to leave a sustainable world for future generations.

The final elements of the project will be agreed after a period of consultation with our parishes and schools. Ideas for the plan include space for a walled garden where vegetables can be grown, an outdoor classroom, chickens, a forest school and a wildflower meadow – and that is just for starters! It is an ambitious multi-phase project that will take at least 3-5 years to fully realise. It will be open to the public and we hope that it will inspire the local community, schools and parishes to transfer some of the ideas on display into their own communities.

At the Centre ecological solutions to problems such as single use plastic have been taken from across the globe. Solutions such as an ‘eco brick’, which is also produced in Cambodia. The eco brick is a way of putting old plastic bottles to good use. When the bottles are packed with waste plastic they become a very useful material and are used instead of bricks for building walls. These are the materials that will be used to build the raised gardens and other small structures at Wardley Hall.

The ‘eco brick’  is an indication of the Centre’s aims to be a place for practical action, inspired by faith, rooted in prayer and that gives a sense of the sacred for people of all faiths and none. People will have the opportunity to proactively engage with the pressing environmental issues facing our generation and the generations who follow.

The environmental crisis we are presently facing is easily the biggest threat to the planet, to humans and to every species on this earth. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis has clearly mapped out the need for a cultural shift when we think about the environment and human ecology. In terms of the environment that sustains us all, the prevailing world view is one that puts human beings at the top of the pecking order with full permission to exploit and consume resources as we please. This view gives little thought to the ecological impact we have on a system in which we must play a more balanced and sustainable role. We can see the negative impact humans are having in areas such as deforestation, the reduction of insect pollinators, pollution, unsustainable agricultural practises, overproduction, wasting water, carbon emissions etc. The list is extensive and both well researched and documented. Environmental issues have consequences for us all, which creates a significant barrier for the reduction of poverty. We need a complete overhaul of our attitudes and practices to be capable of having any impact to mitigate the damage already done.

We hope to inspire people to create an environment that is safe and caring for all life on the planet, while building up a new generation of environmentally committed citizens and leaders. The Laudato Si Centre aims to be a beacon of hope and a centre of excellence in sustainable ecology. The bar is high, but so are the risks to humanity if there is no change.

Our goal is to make the Diocese of Salford a flagship for effective action on Climate Change and by launching this initiative the Bishop is putting his words into action on his own doorstep.

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