“Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
Elizabeth and I are participating in a seminar today considering how Christians across various denominations might respond to the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’.
The full encyclical can be read at http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
A summary of its contents is provided at https://www.catholic.org.au/commission-documents/bishops-commission-for-justice-ecology-and-development/laudato-si/1711-encyclical-summary/file
The day opened with words from Aunty Dianne Torrens from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, who shared something about her faith and how the land is so important for First Peoples.She brought words from her husband, Tim, and reflected on the changes that are noticeable in our environment today.
Professor Tony Kelly then spoke about developing “an integral ecology”, the focus of the day. Fr Kelly offered this striking observation: “No one has all the answers—that is part of the grace of today.” Searching for those answers, talking together and learning together, is the way that we experience the grace of God and, through that, develop a helpful response to the changes that are occurring.
He read from his work, An Expanding Theology: Faith in a world of connections. He observed that our very existence itself is a gift; we all share in the communion of life, and so “this new sense of the mystery of the cosmos is often accompanied by a stirring of ecological conscience as we wonder at the universe has brought forth life in all its precious variety. With such an expansion of consciousness in science and moral concern, faith is temporarily tongue-tied.”
Fr Kelly posed some critical questions: “How can our Christian vision encompass the wonder and responsibility that a new sense of reality inspires? How can faith make, and live, these new connections?” Our response to the environmental changes draws people together, bridging ecumenical and interfaith, cultural and national boundaries.
As human beings, we are all called to work together in addressing this situation. In this regard, he acknowledged that the First Peoples of Australia had long lived with this awareness, with regular connections and co-operation across the lands of the various nations that have existed here for millennia.
The full text of An Expanding Theology is accessible at
The day is continuing with further speakers, panel discussions, dialogue moments, and informal fellowship.
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