In our age we are confronted with two interconnected crises: the coronavirus pandemic and the ecological crisis. Both require urgent action, but they also require a sense of purpose which comes from a clear vision.
In this pastoral letter, I wish to reflect further on this theme so that we may enter our faith more deeply, respond more actively to the situation in which we find ourselves, and live our God-given lives more vibrantly. I do so in a spirit of engagement and dialogue, taking to heart what the Second Vatican Council said when – sixty years ago – it exhorted: ‘We must recognise and understand the world in which we live, its vision of itself, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics’ (Gaudium et Spes, 4).
This pastoral letter is not an attempt to replace either what scientists, civic leaders or various climate movements are saying.
This pastoral letter seeks to engage a further dimension, and approaches the climate catastrophe from the conviction of faith: this means facing the crisis with a deep sense of reality and a profound sense of hope. ‘Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey’ (Lumen Fidei, 57). It therefore means daring to look at the crisis from another perspective: the perspective of God. Looking at our planet from the perspective of the Creator permits us to see things from beyond, as it were. This pastoral letter is addressed in a particular way to people of faith in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
It is a word of encouragement and a call to action in the face of something that threatens every aspect of our lives today and into the future. It asks how we follow Jesus in this unprecedented crisis. How do we live our faith in this new time? How do we pray, and what difference does prayer make? What is God saying to the world? What is the Spirit saying to the churches?