The Irish bishops need to give more leadership on the climate crisis and promote Laudato Si’ in this anniversary year, theologian Fr Dermot Lane has said.
The retired President of the Mater Dei Institute of Education at Dublin City University told The Tablet he felt the bishops hadn’t adequately recognised that this year is the fifth anniversary of the encyclical and that Pope Francis has urged the Church to reflect and take action on it.
Fr Lane’s book, Theology and Ecology in Dialogue: The Wisdom of Laudato Si’, was recently published by Messenger Publications and it is due to be published in the US in the autumn.
The Dublin priest acknowledged that the bishops had established a Laudato Si’ working group and for the last number of years had promoted the Season of Creation, and that they were beginning to incorporate Laudato Si’ into catechetical textbooks, which he said was “a step in the right direction”.
However, he added: “My personal view is that they are not doing enough.”
Of the Pope’s call to the Church to reflect and take action on Laudato Si’, he commented: “That is an enormous challenge and I think it is even more interesting when it is coming from the top and very little is being done.”
The theologian admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic had made things more difficult for the Church in recent months but he said the bishops had seen the pandemic solely as global health criss.
“Covid-19 is a crisis within a bigger crisis – it is a health crisis within the context of the climate crisis and the decline of biodiversity and the neglect of the natural world. Certain boundaries have been crossed that have resulted in coronavirus.” He said the bishops had failed to make that link.
Of the formation of the new coalition government in Ireland and the Green Party’s impact on the green policies to address carbon emissions and the climate crisis outlined in the Programme for Government, he said there was a role for the bishops in making sure that the commitments and the responsibilities entered into by the government are honoured and kept. Discourse around climate change must be followed by action he underlined.
“The encyclical is so strong on the importance of ecological conversion. It requires a shift in everybody’s lifestyle,” he said.