On 17 July, Caritas Plymouth held an event, chaired by Canon John Deeny, to promote reflection, prayer and discussion about the Diocesan environmental policy. We were delighted to be joined by Bishop Mark O’Toole; Sister Margaret Atkins, a Canoness of St Augustine in the community at Boarbank Hall, Cumbria and Francis Stewart from the CAFOD theology team. Over 50 people from across the Diocese joined the event.
Bishop Mark O’Toole opened the event referring to Chapter 3 of St Mark’s Gospel and what sits at the heart of our environmental policy: that whatever the Church does, She is seeking to gather people close to the Lord to respond to the apostolic invitation to be close to Him; in being close to Him, He encourages and mandates His followers to go forth. This is an important twofold dynamic of our environmental policy: it is very important that we take time to pray and study the scriptures to come close to the Lord and out of that, we then embark on action. ‘Rather than a problem to be solved the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise’. (Laudato Si’) The full recording of Bishop Mark’s introduction is here https://youtu.be/oGw3baVDk-w
Sr Margaret Atkins reminded us that ‘our engagement with the environment, like our engagement with God, is just something that starts where we are and that we can do all the time, wherever we are’. The cry of the earth and cry of the poor are interconnected and something that should be integrated into every aspect of life. Being environmentally aware is central for us, but because of our faith it has a much deeper connection and the interconnectedness is part of that deeper dimension.
Our response to creation can open us up to God’s presence in the world. ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.’ Romans 1:20
Sr Margaret talked of the importance of wisdom and wonder in our deepening understanding of creation. New life gives us joy and a sense of the divine. The goodness in creation calls out our gratitude; the wisdom and understanding we find in creation calls out our humility and the wonder of life calls out our generosity. To believe in the Creator sees life as a gift and vice versa. A recording of her presentation can be found on our Diocesan You Tube channel.
Francis reminded us of the words of our Diocesan environment policy and that ‘our Christian responsibility for the planet begins with the appreciation of the goodness of all of God’s creation’. A truly holistic vision is required to tackle the truly global challenge of the social and ecological challenge before us. CAFOD’s campaign – Reclaim our Common Home offers Dioceses and parishes the opportunity to influence this global agenda https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Reclaim-our-common-home
The final blessing – thanks to Fr Mark Skelton
Father God, Creator and lover of all You have made, forgive us for our failures and cultivate in us a healthy desire to be champions of all Your wonders, Caring for our Planet and Caring for the poor.
Jesus, Redeemer and Healer, lead us to find joy in all that You have made and help us to work for the healing of relationships both personal, national, international and universal.
Holy Spirit, Encourager. Help us not to lose hope in the small steps we must take, help us see beyond our smallness to recognize Your power to use us in ways we cannot imagine.
And may Your blessing, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come down upon us and all whom we love now and always.
If you would like to know more about this event or support Caritas Plymouth in taking forward work on the Diocesan environmental policy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org