Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Charleston: A Tale of Reconcilliation

Charleston Church Reopens <source>

On the evening of June 17, 2015, a mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. The church is one of the United States' oldest black churches and has long been a site for community organization around civil rights. Nine people were killed, including the senior pastor and state senator, Clementa C. Pinckney. A tenth person was shot and survived.

Police arrested a white suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina the morning after the attack. <link>

The shooter wanted to start a race war, dividing the United States. However the way the community reacted has been the complete opposite:

Firstly the victims, the families of those killed, spoke to the killer:


Then a UK based teacher, asked a friend to document what has been happening in Charleston, with the result being a powerful witness to reconciliation:

Watch the first full sermon from the church where the shooting took place:

The community of Charleston singing, "We Shall Overcome" together:

Friday, 19 June 2015

Laudato Si: Key Things To Know

Image courtesy of The Independent

The long awaited encyclical on the environment has arrived! Pope Francis has released Laudato Si, an encyclical on the environment on 18th June 2015.

This video has ten key points from the document:

1- What is an encyclical?
Considered one of the weightiest forms of papal writing, an encyclical takes the form of a letter, usually addressed to members of the Catholic Church but sometimes also to society at large. A pontiff typically expands on some teaching of the Catholic faith, pointing out errors that could threaten the faithful’s understanding of Catholic doctrine or suggesting possible solutions to global problems.

2- How many encyclicals has Pope Francis written?
Pope Francis has published two encyclicals: “Lumen Fidei” (“Light of Faith”), released in 2013, and now “Laudato Si’” (“Be Praised”). However, the former was largely the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, so the latter is the first to express Pope Francis’ distinctive teaching.

3- Why has this encyclical received so much attention?
No previous pope has devoted an entire encyclical to the environment. Moreover, Pope Francis has said he wants it to “make a contribution” to a Paris summit on climate change at the end of this year. The pope’s huge popularity and moral suasion means his stance could influence the debate.

4- What does the encyclical say about climate change?
Pope Francis calls global warming a major threat to life on the planet and says it is mainly caused by human activity. He argues there is an “urgent” need for policies that reduce carbon emissions, among other ways, by “substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

5- What other topics does the encyclical address?
It highlights the depletion of clean water and the loss of biodiversity. The 183-page encyclical includes an extensive section on Catholic theology of creation and critiques of economic globalization and consumer culture. Emphasizing his signature theme of economic justice, Pope Francis focuses on the unequal social effects of environmental problems on the “most vulnerable people on the planet.”
Published in the WSJ <here>

Here are a few key quotes:

On waste - The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

On the extinction of species - Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

On God’s love - The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.

More found <here> in the Catholic Herald

Laudato Si'

CAFOD have also produced some great resources:
  • The news / campaigning section has some further information and actions <here>
  • There is also a whole encylical section including activities for students <here>

Friday, 12 June 2015

Pope Francis: Laudato Sii is coming!

The encyclical, to be published June 18, is titled “Laudato Sii” (“Praised Be”), the first words of St Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures.”. Here is a video that introduces in a light-hearted but informative way.

"The encyclical is not expected to be a theological treatise or a technical document about environmental issues, but a pastoral call to change the way people use the planet’s resources so they are sufficient not only for current needs, but for future generations, observers said." (Source <here>)

Do you think the Vatican can help save the environment? Why will some people disagree with it? (Think money!) Do you think Catholics will make an extra effort to take care of the environment? Why? How is this biblically based?