The prior of the Taizé Community says the message of Laudato Si' is now more important
Brother Alois Löser France May 25, 2020
Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si' five years ago, issuing an urgent appeal "for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet". "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all," the pope says (LS, 14).
This call is now more urgent than ever as the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly highlighted how vulnerable our common home is.
At the same time, the sudden lockdown of half of the human population and the drastic health decisions taken in many countries have also shown that a political, social and economic response was still possible when confronted by the gravity of the issues at stake.
Many people are calling for our societies not to simply return to business as usual, but to take advantage of this moment to ask some serious questions.
With people of faith we turn to God in prayer and supplication. But I am convinced that in this moment of trial, God is also imploring us: "Wake up!".
God talks to us because God loves us. Wouldn't God like to tell us: see how dependent you are on each other. Not just between individuals, but among countries and peoples.
See how much you need human fellowship. See how necessary it is to care for creation for your common future.
The risk of social chaos
Yes, let us wake up! While the frantic pace of our societies had suddenly come to an almost complete halt, now it's the risk of social chaos that threatens us.
And those who will be hit first and foremost will be the poorest among us, whether they are countries or people. Will we be able to build, with them, new forms of solidarity by rediscovering the value of mutual assistance, as so many people have practiced in recent weeks?
As the collapse of biodiversity inevitably worsens and the climate emergency weighs on humanity, scientists and the younger generation alike are pleading with us to wake up. Unlimited exploitation of finite resources is no longer possible.
Will we ever become more aware that, with all living beings, "all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family" (LS, 89)?
Make a change of lifestyle
At Taizé, we are impressed to see so many young people who are committed to safeguarding the planet.
To these young people, I would like to say: do not become discouraged by the slowness and hesitation that you see. My generation should ask forgiveness for having shirked our responsibility.
Consumerism has become far too pervasive, as if this were the only thing that makes one happy.
You are right to urge us to make a change of lifestyle so that it becomes both more sober and more focused on the essentials.
What gives me hope is to see many initiatives blossom at the grassroots level. They consist of very concrete commitments. And while they do not provide systemic responses, they show a desire to take action, without which nothing will be possible. These initiatives seem to me to be having more and more impact at the political level.
Believers have an additional responsibility because the planet is a gift that God entrusts to us. Concern for Creation is an integral part of our faith.
In the face of these environmental challenges, it is all the more important for Christians of all denominations to join with people of other religions in giving a joint witness. And we can also unite with those whose motivation for protecting our planet is found somewhere other than in faith.
In the aftermath of the pandemic crisis, one fears that inequalities will continue to grow, and economic recovery will be implemented without taking sufficient account of the climate emergency.
But we also have a huge opportunity to ask ourselves what kind of future we want. Will we be able to seize this moment?
Brother Alois Löser is prior of the Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic community in Burgundy (France).
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