Encouraging news from England in Laudato Si Week

Very many thanks for underlining for us the importance of the celebration of five years of the great encyclical by Pope Francis, ¬Laudato Si’. It is even more relevant today than its was when it was written especially with the opportunity to create a new normal’ as the pandemic recedes, hopefully a more kindly, equitable and environmentally friendly than before. Here is an initiative for change recently started by young people themselves that seems of real consequence. All involved in education at all levels could take note, hence I am drawing it to your attention as a small act in Laudato Si week, I hope this will be an encouragement to us all. Pope Francis writes (Laudato Si 13)young people are demanding change’. He also writes …a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us (LS 202). A youth worker for the Columbans writes in Vocation for Justiceover the years I have attended many climate change marches and protests. It feels like there is something different in the air at the moment. The average age seems to be decreasing. There has been a growing hunger from students to organise and make change. There is a lively optimism at the heart of it all….’.

Teach the Future is a recent youth led campaign in England to reorient the entire educational system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis, every age, every subject needs to incorporate this perspective; students need to know the extent of the emergency, why and how, and be given the tools which will be of use to them as the crisis deepens, they need to live the possible means of amelioration( for instance how to grow vegetables and be more self supporting). Young people are increasingly suffering from eco anxiety, information is needed and ways ofdoing something about it’ presented. The young people in Teach the Future are asking for a review of the whole educational system in England leading to reform, they have produced a Climate Emergency, Education Bill and presented it in Parliament to MPS who were prepared to listen. They hope it will one day soon become the English Climate Emergency Education Act. They have got an impressive amount of support from Trade unions and environmental agencies. Besides reorienting the curriculum they realise teacher training needs immediate reform, they have discovered 74% of teachers say they have not had enough training for what is required. They are also asking that the school buildings be retrofitted to net zero standards. Young people are indeed demanding change, structural change and a reorientation of educational aims. This growing group of young people have come a very long way in a very short time.

The Assumption with its incarnational and educational charism is a part of this ongoing transfiguration. I hope this initiative will encourage us to go further and add the leap, as Pope Francis puts it Environmental education should facilitate making the leap towards the transcendent which gives ecological ethics its deepest meaning… (LS 209)’ The universe unfolds in God who fills it completely. Hence there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. ‘(LS 233)

Jessica Gatty, r.a. May 17th 2020


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