On Caring for Our Common Home
Last year, faced with global environmental deterioration, Pope Francis addressed a letter to every person on the planet, entitled Laudato Si’. These opening words of the “Canticle of Brother Sun” by St Francis remind us that we have a close family bond with the earth, our common home. The question at the heart of the letter is “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to our children who are now growing up?”
From the outset Pope Francis insists on the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet. We should listen, he says, to the cries of both. He reviews the most recent scientific findings on the environment dealing with pollution, waste and climate change. Though less responsible for these outcomes, it’s the poor who suffer the most and the effects will only worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption.
The Pope therefore proposes an alternative lifestyle which respects both the environment and the poor. We might summarise it as: “Live simply so that others may simply live”. The challenge is to our whole way of living with its throw-away culture.
One of this year’s talks reflects in particular on Climate Change, which was the focus for the UN meeting in Paris last December. Climate, says Francis, is a common good that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.
What Francis calls “The Gospel of Creation” leads to the conclusion that the ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. “Rather all creatures are moving forward, with us & through us, towards a common point of arrival, which is God”. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist can lead us to reflection on his mystical body and beyond to his presence in the whole cosmos. “Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love.”
“We must regain the conviction that we need one another; that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world; and that being good and decent are worth it.”
The talks this Autumn, 2016 (all Thursday evenings):
Oct 6th Simple Living – The Pope’s Lifestyle Challenge. Speaker: Martin Poulsom SDB
Oct 13th Climate Change – What is the Global Common Good? Speaker: Ellen Teague
Oct 20th The Cry of the Poor – Who suffers the most? Speaker: David McLoughlin
Oct 27th The Cosmic Christ – All Creation brought together by Love. Speaker: Mary Grey
About the Speakers
Martin Poulsom SDB
Martin is a Salesian of Don Bosco and is Head of Theology at Heythrop College, London, where he has been teaching for ten years. He specialises in the theology of Edward Schillebeeckx and in theology of creation, and has also published articles on science and religion, religious life in the Roman Catholic Church, and the relation between theory and practice in theology. (His book, The Dialectics of Creation, was recently published.) He is consultant to various organisations involved in Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. He attended the UN Climate Conference in Paris with CAFOD last December. He is chair of the livesimply coordinating group and has recently become a theological advisor to Operation Noah.
Ellen is a journalist who writes and campaigns on Justice, Peace and Ecology issues. She writes regularly for The Tablet, Redemptorist Publications and Independent Catholic News. She is a member of the Columban J&P team which produces Vocation for Justice and often deals with environmental issues, and the Environment Working Group of the National J&P Network. She has served on the Bishop’s Overseas Mission Committee and the Environmental Justice Group of the National Board of Catholic Women. At one time she led CAFOD’s education campaign team. She has twice before contributed to our Living Faith series.
David is Senior Lecturer in Theology at Newman University. He studied at Oscott College, Birmingham, the Gregorian University Rome, Cambridge, and the Urban Theology Unit Sheffield. For some years he taught theology at the diocesan seminary, Oscott. A former President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain and Vice President of the European Association of Catholic Theology, he is a founder member of the Movement of Christian Workers and a founder member of the Birmingham ACTA group. He is also a theological consultant to CAFOD and Caritas Europa. David has been twice before to speak in our parish.
Mary is a Catholic liberation theologian who till recently was Visiting Professor at St Mary’s University College, London. She has been a Professor at the Universities of Wales and of Southampton. Before that she was Professor of Feminist Theology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, Holland. She has written extensively – on Hope, Feminist Images of God, Dalit Women in India, Jewish-Christian Dialogue and most recently on justice, peace & reconciliation in Rwanda, in the Middle-East and with Nature. Mary was co-founder with her husband of Wells for India, a water-based charity in Rajasthan, NW India. She is also still closely involved with justice & peace in the Holy Land and with solidarity for Dalits.
The format for each evening will be the same as in the past: a meal, followed by a talk, group discussion and questions to the speaker, ending at 9.30pm. Do try to come to all four sessions.
How to book
These are the parish contacts:
Brian Davies (810886) at Sacred Heart
Alan Parish (575373) at St Marie’s
Barbara Verrill (574471) at English Martyrs
Or fill in this form: