25 August 2015, The Tablet

Bishop places Portsmouth Diocese on ‘Environmental Alert’

The Bishop of Portsmouth has put his diocese on “Environmental Alert” in response to the Pope’s ecology encyclical.

Bishop Philip Egan said that Laudato Si’, which he described as “one of the most challenging papal encyclicals of recent times”, should change the way Catholics think, act and pray.

In a pastoral message for the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on 1 September Bishop Egan challenged his diocese, saying: “Everyone should acquire a renewed awareness of environmental and ecological issues.”

Laudato Si’ made it clear that environmental concern was central to Church teaching, he went on.

The document, he added, is typical of Pope Francis’ style: “with frequent hyperbole and memorable turns of phrase.”

He said that by placing Portsmouth Diocese on what he described as Environmental Alert, he hoped that Catholics would be moved to live “more simply and without wastefulness.”

He encouraged Catholics to disseminate this challenge to by featuring columns about the environment in parish or school newsletters, and by discussing it in parish activity groups – particularly those concerned with Justice and Peace - and RE lessons. He also suggested Catholics get involved with ecumenical and secular campaigns.

Reflecting on the passage in which Pope Francis praises efforts to reduce consumption and recycle and use public transport, Bishop Egan called on his diocese to consider how they might respond practically to the encyclical.

Finally he said the encyclical should affect the way the Church prays, for example by incorporating an intercession for the environment into Mass; and offering rosaries. He also suggested Catholic confess ecological sins, and said: “we should examine our life-styles, seeking His mercy for any sins we may have committed against an integral ecology.”

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