07 October 2021, The Tablet

Brentwood launches campaign to 'heal planet'

Brentwood launches campaign to 'heal planet'

As a mountain climber, Bishop Williams said he has experienced the “wonder of creation”
Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood has written to all parishes across the Diocese to launch a campaign, Laudato Si’ Invitations, Commitments and Actions, responding to the plea of Pope Francis in his encyclical to “listen the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. He explained that it is a diocesan-wide initiative to “inspire, refresh and rejuvenate our care for our common home”. For parishes, the launch was on the eve of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on 4 October and schools focused on the feast day itself last Monday. 

“We are at a pivotal moment in the life of our planet,” said Bishop Williams, as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow next month for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP26. “There can be no doubt that weather patterns are shifting, and it is the poorest people in the world who are often the ones that are suffering the most.”  An A3 leaflet, downloadable from the diocesan website, summarises diocesan commitments, as well as offering inspiration and ideas for communities and individuals. 

Framed by Catholic Social Teaching, the diocese has undertaken fossil fuel divestment and  reduced energy use in buildings, inviting parishes, schools and individuals to play their part. The bishop is also encouraging every school and parish to work towards the Cafod LiveSimply Award. “Each of us is asked to make three personal pledges,” said the bishop. He noted that 45,000 Catholics in Brentwood Diocese, each making three pledges, suddenly becomes a very significant action.

He said: “This is not just another environmental campaign; it is an integral part of our faith.” In making personal pledges. in working to heal the planet and in striving for justice for the poorest people in the world, people are a living witness to Jesus Christ, he added.

Bishop Williams reflected that as a mountain climber, he has experienced the wonder of God’s creation, and has made his own pledges: "I will be eating less meat; I will be walking more often; I will be praying much more regularly on the challenges to God's Creation and the urgent issues around climate change.”

Fr Dominic Howarth, who has been part of the working party involved in the launch said: “Although we are coming to this late in terms of a specific diocesan policy, this is part of a continuum of ethical involvement going back decades.”

He reported that the diocese is part of a national scheme supplying green electricity and gas to parishes; espoused the Real Living Wage in 2018 and set up Caritas Brentwood in the same year. “The launch deepens and strengthens an ethical investment policy that was itself pioneering when it was first developed, over 30 years ago," he said. The dedicated website has already seen lively traffic. One page invites visitors to discover and appreciate places of natural beauty in Brentwood Diocese, such as Epping Forest and Rainham Marshes.

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