WelCom October 2019:
What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?
Respect Life Sunday 2019 occurs on 13 October. This year it has an environmental theme that asks the question: ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?’ Resources have been prepared to assist parishes in marking this significant day and will be available in October to download from the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference website (catholic.org.nz). The resources include a short video featuring young Catholics and Cardinal John Dew, posters to be shared through social media, liturgical resources and a fact sheet about the climate crisis prepared by The Nathaniel Centre – the NZ Catholic Bioethics Centre.
Why have the Bishops chosen to make the environmental crisis a focus for Respect Life Sunday at a time when New Zealand faces significant challenges to the protection of human life from abortion and euthanasia legislation? Director of The Nathaniel Centre, Dr John Kleinsman, says the Bishops have already been heavily involved in the abortion and euthanasia debates and will continue to be. However, he also pointed to the very recent climate summit that happened at the United Nations in New York in September, highlighting the urgency of the current environmental situation for humanity and the planet. ‘The climate crisis is very much a life and death issue, just as abortion and euthanasia are life and death issues. Millions of people’s livelihoods and homes, as well as their survival, are being threatened by the climate crisis.
‘Furthermore, as Pope Francis notes in Laudato Si’, there is an intrinsic connection between the way we treat the environment and the way we treat those who are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of life – the social and the natural, the moral and the environmental, are closely entwined,’ Dr Kleinsman said.
The Bishops are hoping the theme and materials prepared for Respect Life Sunday will provide people an opportunity to recognise the connections between the different issues. ‘I hope reflection on the materials will start a genuine dialogue between the generations and help us all reflect on all the serious threats to life that confront us. One of the biggest obstacles we face today is the compartmentalising that goes on between the economic, political, environmental, social, spiritual and moral issues of our time. “Everything is connected.” It is imperative we recognise the urgent need to take action, including a willingness to make lifestyle and political changes to the way we live, changes that will reduce our ecological footprint and preserve our beautiful planet for future generations,’ said Dr Kleinsman.