Catholics in the Climate Emergency: Sharing the Hope for Change

The webinar promoted by the European Alliance Laudato si’ proposes ideas and solutions to optimize the role of the Church in the context of the environmental crisis. The president of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa association, Father Charles Chilufya: “We live on a limited planet, but our hearts are infinite”

Edoardo Giribaldi – Vatican City

“Making our voice heard following the words of Pope Francis”, this invitation opened the webinar organized by the European Alliance Laudato si’ (ELSiA), an association promoting a concept of ecological justice closely linked to the teachings of the Church. “We are based on three fundamental pillars – explained Laura Mausini, director of European programs – which are: eco-spirituality, eco-practice and eco-vocations”. The event was moderated by journalist Lou del Bello, in dialogue with Father Eduardo Agosta Sacarel, senior advisor of the Laudato si’ movement, and Father Charles Chilufya, president of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa association.

The role of Catholics

Father Sacarel, connected by medium area set up in Sharm el-Sheik for Cop27, began by emphasizing the active role that the Holy See has acquired in the discussion on climate change starting from this conference. “For years the Vatican was a simple observer state, with the sole task of providing indications at the end of the work”, explained Father Sacarel. From this year, following theendorsements of Pope Francis regarding the climate accords made in Paris in 2015, the Holy See has officially become part of the debate.

From theory to practice

Father Chilufya went on to underline the importance of “emphasizing the cry of the poor” from a Church which, especially in developing countries, is “that of the poor”. A native of Zambia, Chilufya has led as an example to the many African populations battered by climatic catastrophes, such as record temperatures, cyclones and sandstorms. In this regard, the words of Pope Francis echo who, in his encyclical Brothers All, underlines the responsibilities towards developing countries, too often affected by excessive industrialisation. “It is also an ethical question – reiterated Father Chilufya – which makes us ask the question: how can we all live well?”

Feed faith and hope

The discussion then turned to the concrete contribution that Catholics can and must bring to the delicate climate issue. “As religious leaders and as faithful – the president of Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa underlined – we must exhort to maintain hope, in the awareness that God has given us immense power to do things differently”. The Church must therefore think, invent, try. “At the beginning of the pandemic, Pope Francis had called us to imagine the future and how to change things. This is what we must do, mobilizing people and their faith”.

New lifestyles

The first step, according to both religious, is the realization of the need to change one’s lifestyle. “The encyclical Laudato si’ – says Father Sacarel – exhorts us to return to traditional Christian models and make our motto less is more“. Limit consumption, reaffirming the concept that human life does not find its full fulfillment in the possession of material goods. “We live on a planet with limited resources – says Father Chilufya – but our hearts are infinite”.

The importance of temperance

Following a question asked by the participants, temperance was then analysed, by definition “the moral virtue which moderates the attraction of pleasures and makes one capable of balance in the use of created goods”. The key, according to Father Chilufya, is to bring this approach into everyday life. “In each of us there is a need to find a purpose, a sense of fulfilment”, concludes the religious. It’s up to us to direct this desire towards a simpler lifestyle from which everyone, including the planet, can benefit.

Catholics in the Climate Emergency: Sharing the Hope for Change – Vatican News