• on 3rd September, 2021

The Cry of the Earth – The Cry of the Poor

Archbishop Dermot Farrell’s Pastoral Letter – The Cry of the Earth – The Cry of the Poor “THE CLIMATE CATASTROPHE – CREATION’S URGENT CALL FOR CHANGE” is now available for download on our website:


‘Which of these three’, asked Jesus, ‘was neighbour to the man
who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ (Luke 10:36) Our planet,
our common home, has ‘fallen into the hands of robbers who
have stripped it’ of its assets, and plundered it, ‘and have gone
away, leaving it half dead’ (see Luke 10:30).
We are squeezing the goods of the planet. Squeezing
them, like an orange. … Today, not tomorrow, today, we
have to take care of Creation with responsibility.1
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) is not
some story about goodness, it is a parable about involvement.
What sets the Samaritan apart is that he is someone who acts. He
sees, he has compassion, he acts, he gets involved. For Jesus, he
is the model of our response to the world: he becomes involved
in the situation in which he finds himself. Our world is being
plundered; we cannot walk away leaving it half dead.
In our age ‘we are confronted with two interconnected crises:
the coronavirus pandemic and the ecological crisis. Both require
urgent action, but they also require a sense of purpose which
comes from a clear vision.’2 In this pastoral letter, I wish to reflect
further on this theme so that we may enter our faith more deeply,
respond more actively to the situation in which we find ourselves,
and live our God-given lives more vibrantly. I do so in a spirit
of engagement and dialogue, taking to heart what the Second
Vatican Council said when – sixty years ago – it exhorted: ‘We must
recognise and understand the world in which we live, its vision of
itself, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics.’3

According to the most recent and very sobering UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report,
climate change is rapid, extensive, and intensifying. The
climate catastrophe is causing major climate disruption, which
in many instances is irreversible.4 This pastoral letter is not
an attempt to replace either what scientists, civic leaders or
various climate movements are saying. Neither does it seek to
displace the appropriate leadership which is their responsibility.
Consequently, the importance of the forthcoming UN Climate
Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will take place
in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021, is to be noted.
Such conferences and their common agreements are vital in
raising public awareness and creating political momentum in the
face of the climate catastrophe. This pastoral letter seeks to engage
a further dimension, and approaches the climate catastrophe
from the conviction of faith: this means facing the crisis with a
deep sense of reality and a profound sense of hope. ‘Faith is not
a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides
our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.’5 It therefore
means daring to look at the crisis from another perspective: the
perspective of God. Looking at our planet from the perspective
of the Creator permits us to see things from beyond, as it were.6
This pastoral letter is addressed in a particular way to people of
faith in the Archdiocese of Dublin. It is a word of encouragement
and a call to action in the face of something that threatens every
aspect of our lives today and into the future. It asks how we follow

Jesus in this unprecedented crisis. How do we live our faith in
this new time? How do we pray, and what difference does prayer
make? What is God saying to the world? What is the Spirit saying
to the churches? (see Rev 3:22). As your bishop, I wish to explore
these and other questions with you.
Part of the difficulty in addressing the climate crisis is that its
vastness and complexity blinds our day-to-day lives to the part
we have to play in addressing it. ‘Climate [is] an overarching,
underlying condition of our lives and planet, and the change [that
has led to this crisis – still unreal for so many –] was incremental
and intricate and hard to recognize, [unless one was keeping] track
[of its detail]. Climate catastrophe is a slow shattering of the stable
patterns that governed the weather, the seasons, the species and
migrations, [and] all the beautifully orchestrated systems of’ this
extraordinary planet which we share.7 Paradoxically, for all of us in
the developed world, our fear of the ‘lifestyle cost’ of acting for the
common good induces a lethal paralysis. When we gain perspective
and realise what is at stake for the future of our children and
grandchildren, and what is already at stake for the vulnerable in
the world’s underdeveloped regions, we are empowered to act.8
Without doubt this is a long-term undertaking. It foresees many
perspective shifts – political, social, economic and ecclesial. While
overwhelming at first, long-term societal change can occur; for
example, the societal shift in attitudes towards smoking, or the
shift away from fossil fuels, now gaining momentum.

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