French diocese holds symposium on Laudato si’

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French diocese holds symposium on Laudato si’

By Gauthier Vaillant/ la-croix.com

Ecology is a topic around which Christians of all leanings can come together, says Bishop Yves Le Saux

Bishop Yves Le Saux of Le Mans will preside over the April 13 – 15 symposium “New Ecological Avenues” organized in his diocese by the Brothers of Saint John.

Gauthier Vaillant spoke to Bishop Yves Le Saux. The bishop said that although the call for ecological conversation of Christians issued by the Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ will take some time to come into effect fully, it has clearly begun.

Following is the interview:

Nearly three years after its publication, what are the reactions to the encyclical Laudato si’? Do you think that Catholics have adopted ecology?
Bishop Yves Le Saux: We have seen a clear response to the text in terms of dialogue with the agricultural sector. The pope’s text constitutes a communal basis for us to take stock and think about current practices. It has made it possible to bring people together who previously would have had little chance to do so.

We have also seen more modest changes at the individual level. This change is demonstrated by those who have taken the time to read the text and really think about what it is asking from us, which is to change our ways of life. Behaviors are starting to change in some parishes too. They are small differences, like better management of heating or waste but they are long-term changes, but the process has started.

On an ideological level, ecology is a way of tackling anthropological issues. When we start to take an interest in the environment, we are quickly drawn to reflect on humankind’s place in the world. The fundamental question is what kind of society we want for the future. This kind of thinking can be quite radical, and allows us to rethink existing economic models.
There will always be climate skeptics or people who think the pope is naïve, but I think these voices are marginal. There is a real change of consciousness and awareness that we have to start doing things differently and start moving towards a healthier and more sustainable society, and that happiness doesn’t come from consumption. It’s time to pursue this line of thinking by adopting human ecology too. Debates around bioethics, for example, are very much linked to these issues.

Does ecological conversion appeal to certain kinds of believers in particular?
No, in fact I think that ecology is a topic around which Christians of all leanings can come together. When we start tackling this issue, we realize that others share the same concerns as us. All kinds of ecclesiastical groups are engaged in the debate, from small groups of individuals to whole parishes and communities of monks. Many monastic communities have responded directly to Laudato si’ by setting up permaculture practices, for example. This weekend’s symposium is just one of many initiatives, and I think there are many more to come. The pope’s encyclical offers a broad foundation for reflection that has the potential to unite all kinds of well-intentioned people, not just Christians.

One sometimes gets the impression that individuals and institutions are at odds. Should bishops play a more decisive role in the debate?
It’s true that bishops are expected to have a leading role. I know that a certain number of bishops are thinking seriously about the best course of action. It is becoming more and more common for bishops to get involved in associations and local initiatives, and they often play a unifying role. For example in my bishopric I can bring together farming unions more easily because I’m not a political player. For us bishops too, this is the beginning of a long process.

We should welcome initiatives from church goers too, it doesn’t all have to come from the bishops. Similarly, recommendations or theoretical ideas that come from bishops might not necessarily be very effective. The important thing is concrete action and discussions that get people thinking.

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 13:24
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