As we near the end of the first week of the COP26 UN climate summit, two Catholic bishops representing key areas of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have issued a statement lauding the action and commitment of Catholic school pupils in their response to the ecological crisis.
Bishop Marcus Stock, Chair of the Catholic Education Service, and Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for the Environment, acknowledge that it is young people that will have to live with the long-term impacts of the climate crisis but, equally, they are at the heart of the Church’s response:
“In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis asks us the key question, ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ This is a profound question that gets to the heart of why the environmental crisis matters and the pressing need for us as a global community to reverse climate change.
“Ultimately our young people are the future, and it is they that will have to live with the long-term ramifications of the ecological crisis. However, it is also the young who can have the most impact in delivering the changes we need to address the climate emergency. That is why one of the most striking elements of the public’s response to the climate and ecological crisis, especially in the run-up to the COP26, is that it has been energized by the participation of children and young people.
Contemplative, active, and prayerful response
“It has been really encouraging to see hundreds of thousands of young Catholics across the country get involved with projects that care for our common home, especially in our network of Catholic schools. We know that our pupils care passionately about this topic and many schools have embedded Pope Francis’ words and intentions from Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti into their wider school curriculum. In this way, the response to the ecological crisis by our young people can be both contemplative and active but also rooted in prayer and in the teachings of the Church.
“Fundamental to Catholic education is the principle of the formation of the whole person and therefore it is right that Catholic schools are forming the next generation of the stewards of God’s creation.”
Right Reverend Marcus Stock Bishop of Leeds Chair, Catholic Education Service
Right Reverend John Arnold Bishop of Salford Lead Bishop for the Environment