Catholics are to be encouraged to confess their sins against the environment as part of a new initiative to mobilise the Church to tackle the climate crisis.
Journey to 2030, a lay-run campaign, was launched last weekend in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, in partnership with the Bishops’ Conference and the Ecological Conversion Group, a volunteer group for young Catholics.
It is named for the year that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pinpointed as the date by which greenhouse gas emissions must be curbed in order to prevent irreversible damage to the planet.
Lead organiser John Paul de Quay told The Tablet: “Care for God’s creation and the dignity of our brothers and sisters is key to our faith, yet as a Church, action was lacking.”
He said he saw there was a need for a long-term Church-wide project that could bring everyone’s existing works together to “ignite the spark that had been steadily smouldering”.
Journey to 2030 encourages parishes to be hubs for community projects, and offers ideas for activities under the headings: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
Resources for an “Advent Reconciliation service” are also available, including ecological examination of conscience cards that invite Catholics to reflect on their own impact on the environment in the areas of diet, transport, clothes and electronics before Confession. Catholics are asked to consider whether their clothes are fairly traded, how many animal products they consume, and whether they overuse their mobile phones.
“We are all hypocrites when it comes to our ecological crisis,” the website reads. “We all contribute to our ecological crisis and often fail to see this. Recognising this hypocrisy is a huge first step in growing in virtue and should not be a stumbling block to us moving forward. On the contrary, it allows us to identify areas of ourselves and our society that need to change in order for us to live in love of God, neighbour and nature. It is this recognition of our own responsibilities that means we are becoming more awake. This advent we need to look at the way we treat the world around us and this reconciliation service is a way of ‘waking up’ and making a change.”
The campaign website was developed in collaboration with the Bishop’s Conference, and links to the Bishops’ videos on the environment, Global Healing and Global Caring. It is hoped that the Arundel and Brighton campaign can eventually be rolled out nationally. Mr de Quay is writing a 12-lesson sixth form syllabus for Catholic secondary schools that will be launched next year, produced after trials in schools around the south-east. “Their faith gives them hope, and therefore motivation, that we can change our wasteful society,” he said.
Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton welcomed the initiative in his pastoral letter for the first Sunday of Advent, saying that people must "wake up" and seek conversion in attitudes towards our common home. He applauded the lay Catholic youth volunteers of the Ecological Conversion Group for their initiative in forming Journey to 2030 and said its resources would be sent to parishes.