Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,
Amidst the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, being required to take an enforced break from our routine busyness has allowed many of us to have a glimpse of what sustainable life on our planet could be like. Birdsong briefly returned to the inner city of the capital, our motorways fell silent, and all around the world people have been treated to skies clear of pollution.
Actions that only a few months ago were deemed impossible to save our planet from destruction from climate change, pollution and depletion of resources have been found to be not only possible but necessary to protect human life from the Covid-19 virus. As we mark on Sunday 24 May the 5th anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ on care for our common home, we have many examples of his assertion: We know that things can change.
We do not underestimate the human cost of the Covid-19 crisis. We mourn the lives lost, both in New Zealand and around the world. We know spare moments to contemplate an improved natural environment were rarely possible for overworked essential workers, including those in healthcare, law enforcement, supermarkets, cleaners and rubbish collectors. As New Zealanders start to return to work and school, we are aware that globally the virus is finding its way into some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet – refugee camps in Asia and the Middle East, and the urban slums of South America and other parts of the world.
Laudato Si’ calls us to listen to the cries of the earth and of the poor. Many of us have found we have new ears to do that. As Pope Francis said on March 27, we thought “we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.” The Covid-19 crisis has vividly reminded us of Pope Francis’s message in Laudato Si’ “that we are all interconnected”. Because one person’s actions can affect the wellbeing of all, we have had to consider how our behaviour affects our local communities, our whole society, our whole global family. Laudato Si’ reminds us that human life is grounded in our relationships with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself.
Our Synod ’17 recommendations included goals to consider care for creation as an integral part of all our decisions and activities, to provide formation in Laudato Si’, and for parishes and schools to consider care of creation projects. These recommendations are given greater urgency by our recent experiences. During these past extraordinary weeks, we have seen both glimpses of the cleaner, more sustainable world we long for, and the human devastation we must avoid. As Laudato Si’ teaches us, humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Please take some time during this 5th anniversary week to read and reflect on Laudato Si’ and to let it guide our decisions and actions as church, community and citizens.
With love and blessings
Every blessing. Naku noa