Connectedness, that was the key word that kept coming up during the Laudato Si’: A Call to Change panel workshop that was co-organized by Development and Peace and CIDSE at the World Social Forum.
Panellists spoke on the important messages that are transmitted in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and how the urgent issues he addresses are being lived by communities in their home countries.
Here are some highlights of what each had to say:
“Disasters have become opportunities for more profit extraction…There is high consumption of a minority at the expense of the majority. We can speaking of alternatives, but the majority of the world does not live in the way that is shown in advertising,”
Shalmali Guttal, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South.
“We have gone from personal sin, to structural sin, to ecological sin. As Catholics, we have to face this and have an ecological conversion. In North America, you need to change your lifestyle because there are not enough resources, and in the Global South, we need to understand that we don’t need to copy this lifestyle, because there are not enough resources.… How do we make strategic noise to challenge the policymakers?”
Father John Patrick Ngoyi, Director of the Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (JDPC) Nigeria.
“The encyclical asks us to be so aware of the pains of the Earth and turn it into our pain… Pope Francis is prophetic in words, but Indigenous communities have long been prophetic and they need to be at the head of the transformation that is required.”
Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
“What is in the encyclical is not limited to one religion, because what is written touches all of humanity. This encyclical breaks from the paradigm that religion takes care of its own truths… The option to defend the Earth is an option for the poor.”
Father Ismael Moreno, Director of Radio Progreso and the Fundación ERIC (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación) in Honduras.
“What happened to us to become so detached from nature? The Earth is as part of creation as we are… We must see things differently. If we think, I am killing my mother, my brother, my sister for a new iPhone, we see another way.”
Moema Miranda, Director of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Research (IBASE) and a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum.
It generated much discussion from participants, and mostly around that auspicious word connection: How do we connect with nature? How do we connect with a new of living? How do we connect with those who are suffering so we can maintain our lifestyle? How do we connect with the right relationship that Indigenous communities have with Mother Earth? How do we connect with policymakers? And perhaps the toughest question, how do we connect with those who do not want to change? It became increasingly clear that the call to change is also the call to connect.
The panelists admitted that there are no easy answers to putting the words of Laudato Si’ into action, but we must take steps as best we can to answer that call to connect. Thankfully, we were left with some great guiding words: “We always hear about poverty reduction, but why not wealth reduction.”