When it published the 2021-22 Social Justice Statement Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, the Bishops Conference committed to developing its own plan – believed to be the first episcopal conference in the world to make that pledge.
Soon after, the Conference set up a working group made up of Bishops Conference staff and chaired by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.
“I’m very pleased to announce that we have released our plan and registered it with the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform today,” Bishop Long says in a video message to mark the launch.
“The plan contains actions to care for our common home, the earth, and all who live on it. The Conference’s Secretariat and all our agencies will be busy implementing these actions over the next two years and we’ll be adding new actions for the following five years.
“We hope it will encourage Catholics around Australia to make a commitment to do more to care for our planet and to leave a worthwhile legacy for generations to come.”
The Conference’s plan includes steps to be taken across seven areas: Cry of the Earth; Cry of the Poor; Ecological Economics; Sustainable Lifestyle; Ecological Education; Ecological Spirituality; and Community Engagement.
Some of the actions include the identification and planting of native species on Conference properties, ensuring slavery-free supply chains, using recyclable products where possible and providing prayer resources aligned with the messages of Laudato Si’.
The Bishops Conference has also prepared a one-page flyer with 10 steps that people can take in responding to Laudato Si’. They include energy efficiency tips, advice on food waste and an encouragement to read and reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical.
Caritas Australia CEO Kirsty Robertson, who also appears in the video launching the Bishops Conference’s plan, noted that the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia encouraged all Catholics to embrace a commitment to ecological conversion.
“That means that every parish and diocese around Australia will need to be involved in a plan like the one launched today,” she said, noting that Caritas is supporting parishes and dioceses in that work.
“We are people of hope and a commitment to take action for the sake of our common home is a clear sign of our hope that all is not doom and gloom,” Ms Robertson said.
“So, let’s all join the bishops in doing something to make things better for us and our beautiful planet.”