On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists and animals, the Social Justice Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has launched a new edition of its teaching document on the environment – The Call of Creation.
First published two decades ago, in 2002, this new edition is released at the conclusion of the Church’s month-long Season of Creation. The document calls for a “profound interior conversion” and for Catholics to “repair our relationship with God’s creation” to address the current ecological crisis.
Writing in the foreword, Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for the Environment, and Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of the Social Justice department, say:
“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. As is made clear in The Call of Creation, the exercise of the virtue of solidarity and the promotion of the common good, which are so needed at this time, are the responsibility of each and every individual and institution in society.”
Two decades later
Why update and re-release The Call of Creation 20 years after its initial publication? As the Bishops attest, there is a need for urgent action to protect our common home. Around the world, and even in England and Wales where we have seen record temperatures topping 40°C, the signs of the times point to a greater number of severe weather events. No person who wishes to build a society marked by peace and justice can fail to be concerned by the trends affecting the natural environment today.
Inter-connectedness of creation
Emphasising the inter-connectedness of creation, The Call of Creation points out that respect for life from conception to natural death is part of a Christian environmental agenda. However, the Christian message is one of hope and redemption. The document notes that it is not too late to act, and it takes heart from the actions of other Christian denominations, people of other faiths and people of no faith as we address the challenges together.
The Call of Creation stresses that each of us has a responsibility to promote the common good and is called to repair our own relationship with the environment. It calls for conversion at all levels. Catholic parishes, schools and universities already contribute to caring for God’s creation – but more needs to be done. Governments need to act and must do so on an international scale. The importance of individual action is also stressed:
“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.”
Direct Link to the PDF : The Call of Creation
Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for the Environment, spoke to us about the current ecological crisis and the new edition of The Call of Creation on this podcast. Listen here.
Environment section on the Bishops’ Conference website. Information, case studies statements and more.
Our section on Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Letter on the Care for our Common Home.