~ Brian Roewe, EarthBeat, National Catholic Reporter
In a span of several weeks last fall, three large initiatives landed on the doorsteps of U.S. Catholic dioceses, parishes, congregations and organizations.
In October, Pope Francis opened the synod on synodality, a two-year engagement of the global churchy focused on listening and encounter. A month later, the Vatican officially launched its Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which invites all parts of the Church to take up seven year programs to adopt sustainable and ecologically friendly practices. And just days after that, the U.S. bishops announced their own plans for what they’ve called a National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year project that will culminate in the summer of 2024.
The three programs make for busy schedules in the coming years for many corners of the U.S. church. But do they have anything to do with each other? That was a question the Catholic Climate Covenant attempted to explore in a webinar on February 10. And it’s one its half-dozen panelists answered in the affirmative.
“These three initiatives are not separate but they’re deeply integral to one another. They fertilize and enhance and nourish each other,” said Jesuit Fr. David McCallum, a member of the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops and founding executive director of the Program of Discerning Leadership, a project of the Society of Jesus.
The synod on synodality aims at a churchwide conversion toward a more synodal, or listening, church, through what Pope Francis has called “the art of encounter.” Through June, dioceses are conducting listening sessions with people across the world.
Some see the Laudato Si’ Action Platform as the perfect venue to put that vision into practice. Jose Aguto, Covenant Executive Director, [says] that the synodal process “naturally flows into the Laudato Si’ Action Platform” with the synod representing an opportunity for Catholics to voice, and their local church to hear, desires for greater engagement on environmental concerns and then with the platform as a way to respond. The platform has been billed as the Catholic Church’s response to accelerating climate change and environmental destruction around the world.
“Many of our constituents have for years expressed concern and frustration that their pastors and bishops are not stepping into care for creation. This is an opportunity for constituents to say in a collective and honest way about the desiring that their churches embrace care for creation,” Aguto said.
As for the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic Revival which begins in June, Aguto said the image of “one bread, one body” could help unify Catholics across ideologies and priorities and to see their work, including on creation care, as the work of all.
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