'Hope in a Time of Pandemic' Issue Spotlight #3: The Sacredness of Earth
The ‘Season of Creation,’ as declared by the World Council of Churches, provides an opportunity for us as Christians to ‘renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together…and to join in prayer and action for our common home’. Since the beginning of this pandemic, the Mercy World has expressed a renewed focus on Creation and the Sacredness of Earth. We have opened our minds and hearts to new relationships with nature that favour mutuality and sustainability over exploitation. Earth can regenerate itself. The Mercy World is recognising the value of stepping back from the many activities that so often distract us from the sacred.
What has been revealed in terms of the Sacredness of Earth?
- A stillness and openness to the Sacredness of Creation.
In MIA’s recent publication, ‘Hope in a Time of Pandemic – Responding to COVID-19 through a Mercy Lens’, we hear that one impact of the ‘stay at home’ orders and social distancing, has been a stillness and openness to the Sacredness of Creation. A Mercy sister from Ireland reflects:
“This is a Kairos moment when we need more than ever to trust in the gracious love present throughout the Universe. Perhaps this is best experienced through the natural world, now liberated from carbon emissions, vehicular noise; hustle and bustle.”
Likewise, a Mercy partner and Indigenous Activist from Peru states:
“This pandemic is an opportunity, a challenge, and a warning – to stop what we have been doing…to find real answers…It is causing us to slow down in many ways in order to listen to the inner, not the outer voice. This Pandemic is causing us to slow down to Mother Earth based pace, so that we can hear what she is saying.”
- Human actions have disturbed the balance of Earth’s ecosystems.
COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, which means that the virus was transferred from animals to humans. Another zoonotic disease is bird flu. Scientists have suggested that the increase in this type of disease can be attributed in part to climate change and environmental changes due to human action. This is a startling reality - that we as humans have contributed to the emergence of this pandemic due to our actions, which have disturbed the balance of our ecosystems. Such actions can be witnessed through the activities of extractive industries who “remove a natural resource from its natural surroundings for industrial purposes without provision for their renewal in a social, economically, or environmentally viable timeframe.” [A/HRC/21/48 (2012)]
Over the years, the Mercy World has tried to raise awareness and influence public policy in relation to extractive industries. We recognise that it is better to leave fossil fuels in the ground. An earlier report produced by MGA, highlights a rights based approach to resource extraction in the pursuit of sustainable development. This report, along with a Water Justice Guide the UN NGO Mining Working Group published have sought to advocate for the rights of water and of Earth.
- The need for Global Contemplation and an Integral Ecology
In addition to these advocacy steps for a sustainable future, COVID-19 has provided the opportunity for the Mercy World to step back from the many activities that so often distract us. A Mercy Sister from Guyana makes the following call:
“A global pandemic can only be countered by a response that is grounded in global contemplation. Among the fruits of our global contemplation are wisdom, energy, new directions, new language, courage and new hope.”
This speaks of an integral ecology, one in which we recognise our interdependence with all of creation. We are all called to ecological conversion as articulated by Pope Francis in his social encyclical Laudato Si’. In his address for the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2016, Pope Francis states;
“As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our Common Home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world (LS 214) which ‘allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us’ (LS 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. (LS 230-31)”
What are we being called to?
- Advocate for the integrity and unity of all Earth systems and the reduction of fossil fuel consumption in light of the lessons learned during lockdown.
- Commit to an Integral Ecology in which we care for our Common Home
- Recognise this time as an opportunity for regeneration.
- Promote resilience and a resolve not to return to ‘normal’.
- Spread the word across your own social media platforms by sharing Hope in A time of Pandemic’ and MIA Global Action’s infographic on COVID-19 and the Sacredness of Earth
- MGA COVID-19 Task Force: “Hope in a Time of Pandemic-Responding to COVID-19 through a Mercy lens. 2020
- “The Consequences of Human Actions on Risks for Infectious Diseases: A Review.” Infection Ecology & Epidemiology 5 (November). Lindahl, Johanna F., and Delia Grace. 2015. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284912900_The_consequences_of_human_actions_on_risks_for_infectious_diseases_a_review
- Mercy Global Action Addressing Links between Homelessness and Extractivism 2020.
Messages to: Angela Reed rsm - Head of Mercy Global Action