Pope Francis, following in the steps of Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeos, has asked us to set aside today as a day to care for God’s creation.
What is striking about Pope Francis’ encyclical on creation, Laudato Si’, is his insistence on care for creation and for the poorest among us. He and many others know that the environmental crisis affects the poor more.
Sunday, before Mass here in Plan Grande, I was speaking to a young man who farms. He noted that up to half of the basic grains harvest has been lost due to the drought. That means that many will not have enough food to eat and that prices for these grains will be controlled by those who have the money to buy up and store the grains.
The drought is serious. Even though we have had three strong rains in the past ten days, the damage has already been done. Some farmers did not plant since the rains had not fallen to loosen up the soil. Others lost some or all of their crops due to the drought. Even some coffee farmers are seeing the effects of the drought with premature ripening of coffee beans as well as some infestations that cannot be controlled since the inputs need rain to get rid of the insects.
A friend who has been here in Honduras for 32 years recently told me that this is the hottest and driest year she has ever experienced.
Global warming and a strong El Niño are possible causal factors. But the situation is complicated by deforestation as well as by the burning of fields which I saw even yesterday.
And so today is the time to begin to find ways to really care for the creation which God has shared with us and to help all experience the "global ecological conversion" that Pope John Paul II called for and that Pope Francis reiterated in his encyclical.
This means, first of all, recovering a sense of awe and wonder. As Pope Francis wrote,
If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.