Call for Catholic synod on creation
Irish Columban missionary priest, Fr Sean McDonagh calls for a Synod on Creation if Church official teaching on ecology is to grow out of its infancy. This was his message to a hundred strong, multi-faith audience who gathered at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield, on Saturday April 10th to explore the 2010 New Year Message of Pope Benedict XVI, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”
Fr Sean welcomed the Pope’s insistence that affluent lifestyles have an enormous negative impact on the planet. He also noted that the Pope has called for both intergenerational solidarity and for new relationships between developing and highly industrialized countries which carry a historical responsibility for environments problems.
However, Fr McDonagh was critical of church social doctrine which ‘fails to give any overall sense of the magnitude of the current ecological crisis.’ He proposed that it passes over the destruction of global biodiversity, or, in theological language, the irreversible destruction of God’s creation. He lamented that current Church ecological analysis gives no sense of the urgency of this situation in spite of the Vatican delegation lending its support to the robust 40% reduction target at Copenhagen.
He said ‘the fault lies in tending to ignore data-focused nature of ecology’. This often stems from Church misgivings about ideas which challenge the hubris of believing that humans are the only beings on earth that have intrinsic value.
McDonagh went on to say that, ‘It is not clear to me whether the Pope is challenging the Darwinian understanding of evolution through natural selection?’ Church coinage of such terms as “human ecology” seems at odds with what we know from various sciences.
One of the three respondents to the lecture, recently appointed Chair of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Bishop Julian Porteous, called for prudence in accepting scientific data on such issues as climate change.
‘All ecology is local’, said McDonagh, ‘and promoting sustainable ways of living is local.' He suggested that Pope Benedict XVI call a Synod on Creation and that church communities worldwide could bring their local expertise to the table.
This was a proposal endorsed by the other two respondents at the gathering. Co-founder of CANWin campaign, Bundanoon, Sandra Menteith, stated that transformation follows a cross. Macquarie University student, Emily Aitken added that in our response to environmental challenges there is a need to embrace pluralism.Fr Charles Rue SSC is the Coordinator of Columban Justice Peace Integrity and Creation (JPIC).email@example.com