Watching Pope Francis push open the Holy Door in the Cathedral in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, brings to mind the great Old Testament prophets who brought God to the people through symbolic actions and words rich in meaning. Already Francis is calling forth the Year of Mercy and calling us in a radical way to be people of mercy, of peace and reconciliation. “Even when the powers of hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love and peace.” We need this message. I need this message. Let us move forward in hope believing that that God will indeed have the last words… “LOVE AND PEACE”
Archive for the ‘Pope Francis’ Category
Pope Francis never ceases to amaze me. I am deeply touched by his visit to Africa. The video message he sent ahead of his visit fills me with hope: “I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.” May we do the same, may we too bring “reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.” The theme for Francis’ visit is “Let us pass to the other side” I pray that we can all do this – cross over to where others are and recognise our common humanity and goodness…
Watch the video message here:
It is likely that each of us is aware of small local gestures of love and care towards the environment and to those most immediately dependent on it. In the recent encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminds us that each individual must play their part in addressing climate change. He calls on governments and multinationals to take a lead, and he warns against ‘a false or superficial ecology which bolsters complacency'[LS 59].
Pope Francis also acknowledges that there are positive steps, some of which are significant and which give testimony to the fact that positive intervention is a possibility.
In some countries, there are positive examples of environmental improvement: rivers, polluted for decades, have been cleaned up; native woodlands have been restored; landscapes have been beautified thanks to environmental renewal projects; beautiful buildings have been erected; advances have been made in the production of non-polluting energy and in the improvement of public transportation. These achievements do not solve global problems, but they do show that men and women are still capable of intervening positively. For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. [LS 58]
I would like to pick out just three recent good news stories that have appeared in the last week here in the UK – maybe you have others that you could add.
‘By the end of 2016, the company will establish a Lego Sustainable Materials Centre at the Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, with the aim to be manufacturing both the Lego toys and its packaging in sustainable materials by 2030.’ [cnet]
A more sustainable toy – Lego announces its intention to get rid of petroleum based plastics
Toys such as Lego are essentially luxury goods. The market for them is driven by branding and advertising. The decision to make a radical move towards sustainability probably indicates not only increasingly responsible manufacturing targets but also a growing pressure from consumers to buy sustainable products.
A tiny hamlet in Lancashire, NW UK has won a significant battle in its campaign to prevent fracking in the local area. Little Plumpton has just 13 residents. In an area where employment is limited and fracking could boost the economy, locals and others from across the region have mounted a determined campaign which has at least temporarily halted the proposed site.
The Chief executive of the Lancashire Chamber for Commerce, supported by Cuadrilla said “In turning down this proposal, councillors appear to have ruled with their hearts, rather than their heads, and ignored the reasoned arguments of those with genuine expertise in this industry. She said it was “bad news for local businesses”. The ‘no’ campaign has largely centered around the environmental impact of the proposed site.
Naomi Klein, a leading social activist and critic of capitalism will join Cardinal Turcson in leading a conference on the climate hosted by the Vatican.’Pope Francis recruits Naomi Klein in climate change battle’
This collaborative approach to the debate, and the engagement between the moral, ethical, spiritual and scientific aspects can only be positive. The debate on the environment ‘cries out for a moral voice’ [N Klein]
“The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics,” she said, referring to Pope Francis’s recent publication of an encyclical on the environment. [N Klein]
She went on to say that ‘the pope’s position as a “moral voice” in the world – and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics – gives him the unique ability to unite campaigners fighting for a common goal.’.
In the encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis repeatedly calls us to become aware not only of the immediate consequences of environmental degradation – deforestation, loss of habitats, etc. but also of the repercussions on the global community. In the paragraph quoted below he reminds us of the potential consequences of further multinational control of water resources.
Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.[LS 31]
I read an article recently which looks at the main findings of ‘A New Climate for Peace‘ – an independent report commissioned by G7 members. The report refers to climate change as “the ultimate threat multiplier” in fragile situations, and looks at how related issues such as food insecurity, migration and competition for water can leave fragile states and regimes unable to provide for their citizens.
International and national security is very much on the political agenda, and the report acknowledges that there are multiple factors involved in any conflict, but it also recognises the significant impact of food and water insecurity in conflict.
In the next few weeks I invite us to have a look as some parts of Laudato Si to consider areas of personal conversion that each one of us is called to. Pope Francis reminds us that awareness enables us to discover what can be done.
Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS19
Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our current situation so as to allow the suffering of the world to become our own suffering.
One area that is addressed in the encyclical Laudato Si, is that of our throw-away society.
We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. LS22
Change is certainly needed on a macro level, with industry and governments playing a key role. However we are reminded that the individual cannot abdicate responsibility and there are small lifestyle choices that each of us can make.
Perhaps as a practical step each one of us might consider the waste produced in our households each week. Are there choices that we can make with regard to food, clothing, transport etc that might reduce our personal consumption of the earths resources? Here’s are just a few simple questions that might provoke reflection:
- Do we buy food with a lot of packaging?
- Do we repair or dispose of damaged goods?
- Do we compost or send to landfill?
- Is all recyclable waste separated in our house?
- Are we overly influenced by fashions – clothing, technology, etc?
The video addresses the question of manufacturing in a way that has less environmental impact.
It is worth watching all of this presentation if you havent already, but in particular I invite you to watch Prof Schellnhuber from 1:00:00 – 1:18:50. (Much of the video is in Italian but the interventions, including Prof Schellnhuber, are in English)
It is not poverty that destroys the environment, it is wealth, consumption and waste.
[Prof.John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute]
What follows are a few extracts from the Pope’s video message at the prayer vigil to begin the Year of Consecrated Life. There are some amazing phrases in it! It seems to me that this message is for all women and men who are committed to spreading the Gospel. I’ve posted the phrases that struck me as I read it. I wonder what will strike you?
“ I repeat to you today what I have said at other times: “Awake the world! Awake the world!”
Put Christ at the center of your existence. The essential norm of your life being to “follow Christ as taught by the Gospel” (Perfectae Caritatis, 2), consecrated life consists essentially in personal adherence to Him.
And, with Christ, begin always from the Gospel! Assume it as a way of life and translate it into daily gestures marked by simplicity and coherence, thus overcoming the temptation to transform it into an ideology. The Gospel will keep your life and mission “young,” and it will render it timely and attractive. May the Gospel be the solid terrain where you advance with courage. Called to be “living exegesis” of the Gospel, may that be, dear consecrated, the fountain and ultimate reference of your life and mission.
Come out of your nest to the fringes of the man and woman of today! Therefore, let yourselves be encountered by Christ. The encounter with Him will drive you to encounter others and will lead you to the neediest, to the poorest. Reach the fringes that await the light of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium, 20). Inhabit the frontiers.
Dear brothers and sisters: presented before you are many challenges, but these exist to be surmounted. “Let us be realistic, but without losing joy, audacity and dedication full of hope! Let us not be robbed of the missionary force! (Evangelii Gaudium, 109)
I really enjoyed reading the Pope’s Top Ten Ideas for coming to true happiness – thanks to the Independent Catholic News. I am going to try and live them one at a time. Perhaps others might like to do the same…The ideas are given below. Let’s try it and see what happens…
POPE FRANCIS’ TOP TEN HINTS FOR FINDING TRUE HAPPINESS…
1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle.
2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. Stagnant water becomes putrid.”
3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The Pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the main character – gaucho Don Segundo Sombra – looks back on how he lived his life. “He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool” of water, the Pope said. He said he likes this image of a pool of water – to have “the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life.”
4. “A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. “Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone.
5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said. “It’s not enough to give them food,” he said. “Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home” from one’s own labour.
7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'”
8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”
9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,” the Pope said.
10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
The disciples were still just ordinary people. I often imagine them as somewhat superhuman and therefore fearless messengers of the gospel. Not like me at all.
Pentecost reminds me that they were gathered together, still in their safe world, even after the amazing revelation of Jesus’ resurrection they did not have the impetus to go out. Until the Spirit comes upon them. Then they are transformed. They move from being a group dominated by past experience and fear to people filled with courage and understanding and a deep and unquenchable desire to proclaim the gospel.
The Holy Spirit has come into the world. We believe too that we receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. And yet in some mysterious way we are also longing to be transformed today by that same Spirit.
Send your Holy Spirit upon us to be our Helper and Guide.
Give us the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill us with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
We pray this for every situation of fear and misunderstanding in our personal lives, and for our world. May the Spirit transform each of us to be witnesses to the Gospel of love, freedom and forgiveness.
Today Pope Francis is to meet with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine. May the Spirit of God give these men the courage to be transformed.