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Bishop Terry Brady leads prayers for the homeless at a rally in Elizabeth Bay in late June. Welcoming the Australian Bishops’ annual statement on social justice on August 5, Bishop Brady – a member of the ACBC’s Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service – said the care of the poor and the care of the environment go hand in hand. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Australians cannot afford to overlook the wider ecological crisis threatening the world’s poor, the country’s Catholic bishops have urged.

In its annual social justice statement released Aug. 5, the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops commits to a seven-year journey towards seven Laudato Si’ goals.

The statement titled “Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor” was launched by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, president of the Episcopal Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.

Members of the Mura tribe are pictured in a file photo in a deforested area of ​​unmarked indigenous land inside the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Brazil. Bishops working in the Amazon oppose a bill they say threatens Brazil’s rainforest by allowing illegally deforested federal land to become private property. Photo: CNS, Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters

The global church must act

“We are facing an ecological crisis and Pope Francis wants the entire global Church to act with a greater sense of urgency,” Bishop Long said.

The statement explains that the objectives of Laudato Si’ are to put Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’: On caring for our common home in practice.

He urges families, schools, parishes, dioceses and organizations to join the Bishops in joining the Laudato Si’ Platform for Action.

Solar panels are seen on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican in this 2010 file photo. Under Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City began installing solar panels in 2008. Phgoto: CNS , Paul Haring

A statement based on the Gospel

The platform, an initiative of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will bring together ideas for action from around the world.

Bishop Terence Brady, a member of the Episcopal Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, said The Catholic weekly that the statement, like Laudato Si’, is based on the gospels.

“Caring for the poor and caring for the environment go hand in hand,” he said. “It is at the heart of the Gospel message and brings us back to the basis of our faith. Pope Francis expressed it all beautifully in Laudato Si’, and you can see the influence of his Jesuit spirituality and the love of St. Francis of Assisi for all of God’s creation in this document.

Pope Francis emphasized environmental protection and the need to mitigate climate change in his second encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, published in June 2013. In this file photo, a woman holds a fish caught by her husband off South Tarawa in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati. Photo: SNC, David Gray, Reuters

Bishop urges Catholics to familiarize themselves with the statement

As his message was so universal and Gospel-centered, the Bishop said he hoped it would be read and widely shared, despite the current COVID-19 outbreaks currently claiming much of the attention of Australians.

“It has energized me and I hope and pray that it energizes Catholics and Australian communities as well,” he said.

Goals include improving the use of renewable energy and fossil fuels, promoting biodiversity, defending all human life from conception to death, adopting simple lifestyles and recovering a religious view of God’s creation.

Follow the example of the first Australians

Bishop Long emphasized that “Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have been caring for the country since time immemorial.”

“The rest of us need to listen and learn how we can walk together to care for all of creation – including each other.”

The Episcopal Conference’s Office for Social Justice, which Bishop Long announced has been renamed the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, has been involved in the development of the Laudato Si Platform for Action. ‘.

“The rest of us need to listen and learn how we can walk together to care for all of creation – including each other.”

Speaking at the online launch of the statement, Bishop Long said he hoped it would encourage “ever deeper and more effective Christian responses to the urgent cries of the earth and the poor.”

He acknowledged that individuals, religious institutes, schools and organizations have been working on environmental issues for a long time.

“I want to affirm them and thank them all, and urge the whole Catholic community to join them,” he said.

Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor and associated resources can be downloaded from www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au

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