Ecology and liturgy

“Today there is an acute pathology inherent in the system that currently dominates and exploits the world : poverty, social inequality, the exhaustion of the Earth and the severe imbalance in the life system. The same forces and ideology that exploit and exclude the poor are also devastating the whole community of life and undermining the ecological foundations that sustain Planet Earth” (Leonardo Boff).

Ecology is not just concerned with questions to do with green spaces or threatened species. Ecology implies a new paradigm, that is, a way of organizing the whole set of relations of human beings among themselves, with nature and with their meaning in this universe. It inaugurates a new alliance with Creation, an alliance of veneration and kinship. We were not created to place ourselves above nature to dominate, but to be alongside, living together as brother and sister. This is the way in which we discover our cosmic roots and our citizenship of earth. Today it is not just the poor that must be liberated from captivity to a development model that denies them dignity, destroys their resources and breaks the equilibrium worked out during millions of years of work by the cosmos. In this way the cry of the poor joins the cry of the Earth. And from here liberation theology is broadened into a theology that is truly integral and universal, because it concerns all people and the whole planet. The experience of ecology enables us to recover anew the sacredness of Creation, a new image of God, a broader, cosmic conception of the Christian mystery and a new spirituality (Leonardo Boff).

The first thing I need to share with you is ‘where I’m coming – or writing – from’. There is a ‘habitat’ in which we, the Sisters in Argentina, celebrate life. I say ‘habitat’, but it might also be called ‘humus’ or ‘amniotic fluid.’ These are not just words, but content, the nutritive medium of our liturgy. (I think it’s extremely important to share this because it will help us to understand each other and enrich each other in the diversity of expressions of liturgy as Sisters in an international family like ours.)

…of all the Argentine communities since I joined Assumption in 1973.

My present community is ‘inserted’, as we say, in a poor environment, on the frontier (with Brazil and Paraguay), a ‘tourist destination’ (the Iguazú Falls), which many of my neighbours have never seen because transport to it and the ticket to get in are expensive. There are Paraguayan immigrants living in inhuman conditions, shacks made of boards, without water or electricity, homes with earth floors, without any other work than ‘speculating’ (as they say), which means buying and selling anything from a kilo of flour to their own ‘improvements’ (board shacks), if necessary. Without papers (getting them costs money), without access to health or education services.

We, the Sisters, live in the neighbourhood, we meet on the same bus, we suffer from the lack of water and electricity (though not as much as them since we have a well and a more reliable electrical installation), and powerlessness in the face of the exclusion they have to face. The guidelines for our ‘option for insertion’ are the documents of the conferences of the Latin American bishops. The first was Medellín in 1968 : in the Church context after Medellín we left the upper-class college we had in Buenos Aires to move geographically and ‘put our money where our mouth was,’ among the poor. Then came Puebla, Santo Domingo, Aparecida and finally Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. These documents confirm us, sustain us, and challenge us.

In Assisi the Pope talked about ‘countries that carelessly throw away food and natural resources while in other latitudes millions of people are dying of hunger. Only if we care for nature can we also protect people, be concerned for all, especially children, old people, the most fragile.’ 

Lucia del Carlo, R.A.

From “Towards an Eco-Assumption”, a Project of the Religious of the Assumption. To find the whole document :



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