This September, a number of Christian churches in Ireland along with Christians in other countries will celebrate the natural world and consider ways to decrease their ecological footprint, in a celebration known as ‘Creation Time’. From 1st of September to the Feast of St Francis on the 4th of October, Christians will explore better ways to relate to the natural world in all areas of their lives, from how they worship, live and work, to their property and finance management, community outreach and contact with the developing world.
Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI) is promoting this initiative in Ireland, which has been running since 2008. ECI is an inter-church grouping that promotes the ecological messages in the practices of Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches as well as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland. Sr Catherine Brennan, the Catholic representative on the Eco-Congregation Ireland committee has written an article for Intercom Magazine on Creation Time 2016.
Sr Catherine Brennan, Eco-Congregation Ireland
Pope Francis has instituted the 1st September as an annual World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. The day of prayer, the Pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation and an opportunity to ask forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.” The Pope said in his statement announcing the day: “As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motives for our concern for the care of creation.”
The climate and biodiversity crises that are causing and likely to cause considerable loss of human life in many countries is largely driven by actions in the developed countries. Efforts are now needed at all levels in all faiths to focus on the moral dimension of this – the greatest challenge facing humanity. To date the topic has seldom been referred to by local clergy and other representatives of various faith groups in Ireland and other developed countries. Exceptions to this have been the Eco-Congregation grouping, Trocaire (the aid agency supported by the Irish bishops), the Methodist Church and various orders of religious sisters. Some individuals like the Columban priest and author Fr Sean McDonagh who is based in Navan and worked in the Philippines have also been to the fore in highlighting the impact of climate change and the urgent need for a ‘greening’ of the Church.
The Creation Time initiative will, it is hoped, prompt parishes in the various Christian churches to discuss the climate issue and develop some local initiatives. Essentially such initiatives need to be awareness raising and actions on reductions of emissions. They also could address in some small way the climate justice issue of people in the developing world suffering the effects of drought and other severe weather events due to climate change. Issues of hunger and malnutrition in various communities have been highlighted by Trocaire in their recent campaign on ‘The Burning Question’ (on climate justice) and on their ‘Africa Food Crisis Appeal’ as millions of people across eastern and southern Africa are in urgent need of food and water due to the worst drought in decades. Millions of people across east and southern Africa are in urgent need of food and water due to the worst drought in decades.Millions of people across east and southern Africa are in urgent need of food and water due to the worst drought in decades.Millions of people across east and southern Africa are in urgent need of food and water due to the worst drought in decades.
The Clogher Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Group (JPIC) earlier this year launched a proposal for an initiative entitled ‘Clogher Caring for Our Common Home. The focus of the proposal is on putting the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, into effect in the Diocese of Clogher through action on awareness raising, church infrastructure and liturgy.
(Transition Monaghan’s Liam Murtagh is also a committee member of Clogher JPIC)