The Pope reminds us that we, as human beings, are being called; that we all have a vocation: not to destroy but rather “to be guardians of God’s handiwork…so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness (LS, 53)
The human person has been made for love. And if we feel loved by the God of Life and leave our fears aside, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care inevitably well up within us (LS, 58). If we are living our vocation, we can look beyond our own existence, and see that of others, of the earth, and of the generations that come after us – the children who are now growing up.
The Pope gives an appreciative and encouraging recognition to those who are working to build a common home: “I want to recognise, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest” (LS, 13)
We can see and feel reflected in these words and sentiments of the Pope, many Chilean experiences of faith communities who have organised themselves, motivated by their faith, to defend their environment, their natural resources, and territories, with tremendous courage and perseverance from being threatened and severely damaged by the actions of projects carried out by forest, mining, agribusiness and hidroelectrical companies.
This was the case, for example, with the “Pastoral for the Integrity of Creation” (Pastoral por la salvaguarda de la Creación ) in which Catholic and Presbyterian communities combined their efforts in defence of the Huasco Valley in opposition to the Pascua Lama project, conducted by the multinational Barrick Gold. . It was also the case of the Christian community of Aysén who, through the issue of water, began to discover and understand “how deep social, ethical, political, religious, cultural, and economic” motives and interests are intertwined and that it is the “urgent and prophetic” role of Christians to be God’s instrument to fight and build a world in harmony, peace, justice, solidarity and equality “. Therefore the community linked itself decidedly to the ” Coalición Ciudadana por Aysén Reserva de Vida”” feeling part of the environmental issues concerning the region and participating in the activities defending Patagonia against the installation of hydroelectric dams.
Taking care of the Earth is an essential duty of every Christian person. It’s not an option, nor a hobby, nor something secondary, but rather a vocation, a deep conviction of faith which has consequences on “our way of thinking, feeling and living”. It is a passion for the care of the world.
Therefore, it requires us to get motivated and engage our thinking, our feelings, and our emotions and become passionate guardians, with the goal of protecting, respecting, using and conserving everything that sister, mother earth has given to us. This is an “ecological spirituality”, “a spirituality which inspires us, an interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activities” as inhabitants and beneficiaries of this “Common Home” which is our Planet Earth.
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