Daily Archives: February 7, 2022

The Cries of the Earth and the Cries of the Poor Clean Up Australia Day Special 2022

Clean Up Australia Day is Just 4 Weeks Away on Sunday 6 March!

The Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane invites you to consider joining a local clean up event or organising your own. Individuals, families and households, parishes, schools, youth groups, businesses and offices can all get involved.

Clean Up Australia Day is Sunday 6 March. Schools Clean Up Australia Day is Friday 4 March. There are already many registered events across South-East Queensland listed on the Clean Up Australia web site. You can organise your own  clean up event on those days or any day of the year.

Why Should Christians Get Involved?

In his 2015 encyclical on caring for our common home, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis invited us all to commit ourselves to a journey of ecological conversion, a journey in which we renew our relationships with God and all that God has created, human and non-human alike. Part of that journey involves turning our backs on extreme consumerism and working to minimise the waste of the earth’s resources, a sad consequence of this consumerist mindset.

The Holy Father points to many ecological problems including the build-up of millions of tonnes of waste :

…Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish…

These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them…

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 21 – 22

For the Pope, many of the ecological problems we face, including the build-up of waste, are connected to our being caught up in a destructive whirlwind of consumerism:

The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears…

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 204

Pope Francis encourages us to look to the rich heritage of Christian spirituality as a resource we can offer for the renewal of humanity in the current climate of ecological and social crises:

Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 222.

Helping to Clean Up Australia Is a Start

You can join community clean up events in your locality or register your own clean up. Registration is easy and Clean Up Australia will send you kits to help you to run a clean up event efficiently and safely.

You can search for local events, register an event and get other information about organising an event for your parish, school, youth group or office at: https://www.cleanup.org.au/

We Need to Go Beyond Cleaning Up Waste

Image of two people walking on grassland Text: Laudato Si' Goal 6 Ecological Spirituality
Source: https://oppeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/6.png

Beyond cleaning up the accumulation of waste in our environment, we need to explore how the spiritual practices of centuries of our Christian tradition can help to change our lives and the life of the world for the better.  Spiritual renewal is needed to address major ecological problems like the waste of the earth’s resources and the accumulation of rubbish in the environment. In the weeks leading up to Clean Up Australia Day and after, we will endeavour to offer you some help to do this.

Listening to the word of God is an essential part of our journey of ecological conversion. In this regard, you may find it useful to listen to the recently released Revolution of Tenderness podcast, Interpreting Scripture from an Ecological Stance with biblical scholar, Sr. Veronica Lawson: https://anchor.fm/office-for-social-justice/episodes/Interpreting-Scripture-from-an-Ecological-Stance-with-Sr-Veronica-Lawson-e1ds5vo

We also need to assist in the transition to what the Pope calls a circular model of production” where everything is a resource and there is no such thing as waste. Clean Up Australia offers information and resources to help you to step up your commitment to reducing waste and promoting a circular economy: https://www.cleanup.org.au/waste-challenges

In 2020, the Commission collaborated with Clean Up Australia to present a short webinar exploring some of the steps we need to take to promote a circular economy.

In the coming weeks, we will offer more to support you in the lead up to Clean Up Australia Day. Stay tuned!

Authorised by Ms. Maree Rose, Chair of the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane