Put your foot down about climate change
‘Church action on climate change and care for creation could bring young people back to the Church!’
‘Trinity students pray and march for action on climate change!’
There was a sense of faith in action in Trinity College Dublin last Sunday as students prayed and marched for action on climate change and a safer, fairer and more peaceful common home.
Sunday Mass in the university, celebrated by Fr Alan O’ Sullivan O.P., included prayers of the faithful for the success of the climate change marches on the eve of COP21 and a short talk on climate change by one of the students. Referring to Pope Francis’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si; On Care for Our Common Home’ she highlighted the Pope’s call for urgent action on climate change as a moral obligation. After Mass a photo message was taken to send to Irish politicians, urging them to act on climate change and reminding them, in the words of Pope Francis, that ‘it represents one of the principal challenges to humanity in our day’. Student prayer was then backed up with peaceful student action as Trinity students from diverse backgrounds and faiths joined together to take part in the Dublin Peoples’ Climate March. As Pope Francis put his shoes down in Paris, Trinity students put their feet down in Dublin, raising banners decorated with hand painted student footprints which urged people to ‘put your foot down’ and demand that politicians act to tackle climate change. The students’ banners also included pleas to ‘listen to the cry of the poor’ and some health sciences students sported a banner proclaiming that ‘You can’t have healthy people on a sick planet’, a quote attributed to the great eco-theologian and Passionist priest, Fr Thomas Berry.
Deirdre Duff, a student who spoke about climate change at the end of Mass, believes that Laudato Si is an incredible document which could not only help save our planet but which could also bring young people back to the Church. ‘I’ll admit that I used to be pretty bad for going to Mass, I’d only go once or twice a month. Then I went to Mass the Sunday after ‘Laudato Si’ was released and I haven’t missed Sunday Mass since. I realised that the Church did actually had an awful lot to teach me…I realised how awful I’d been to God’s creation and to His poorest people who were suffering from my actions in other parts of the world…it just woke me up! Then I simultaneously got to know and love both God and God’s creation in a way I had never had done before. Surely I’m not the only one to have been so affected by Laudato Si! It really is an amazing advertisement for the Church. Most young people I know have very little time for the Church but I’ve seen some changes in that attitude as they are genuinely impressed by Pope Francis’s stance on the environment and on his concern for the victims of climate change. If someone had told me this time last year that I would be taking part in a march next year carrying pictures of the Pope I don’t think I would have believed them! The Irish Church should make more use of Laudato Si if they want to attract young people back. It should get involved in genuine action to teach people about God’s creation and to tackle climate change. I think that would impress people, both young and old!’
It’s a shame. I’m sitting on a very talented group of Laudato ‘si supporters over here in Canada (Cape Breton) who are ready to fight the fight with the best of them on a universal plane where this fight needs to be fought (not necessarily in the pews) and we couldn’t get funding if we tried. Talks about crowd-funding a worthy source who are morally obliged to get behind such a feat went nowhere and government funding requirements would have us transplant from our families and move to city centres to have the slightest chance. I volunteered with the GCCM this year to the tune of 70 hours during a two week period, having prepared them for their first international trip to Italy. I furnished them with all the banners, quarter page flyers, t-shirt designs, social media graphics (all in three languages) that they needed for their trip (at the last minute because their graphic designer completely flaked out on them). It’s a sad state that a $5 monthly crowd-fund ($60 yearly) couldn’t be negotiated because the GCCM was ready for us. COP21 is showing that the richest countries are not only the issue but also the obstacle. I’d like to change that but my messages will sit with my handful of peers. My well hasn’t gone dry but at the same time, I’m not forcing people to drink from my cup either. Good luck Sean.