Testimony of faith.  "Laudato si' linked my environmentalist and Christian convictions"

Testimony of faith. “Laudato si’ linked my environmentalist and Christian convictions”

Since the 1990s, ecology has been close to my heart. I first demonstrated in defense of agricultural land invaded by concrete in the new town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (Yvelines) where I live. I met other environmental activists there, with whom we organize actions. I got involved with Amnesty International, with the Jesuit Refugee Service, a Jesuit network for the reception of refugees. In short, I have activism in my blood.

My parish is not immune to my thirst for action! Long responsible for the chaplaincy of public education in the sector, I began studying theology at the Center Sèvres, in Paris, when my daughters were still at home. Thanks to this five-year journey, I plunged into the magnificent world of the Bible, of philosophy, of theology. But it took the summer of 2015 and Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, to make me take an essential turn.

Taking advantage of a quiet holiday, I read the text published at the end of May. Very quickly seized, pencil in hand, I annotate the book – very tired today. Struck by this or that idea, I write in the margin: “life program”, etc. What is going on? Through these pages, I hear Pope Francis telling me, “You are an environmental activist and a Christian. It’s one and the same.” Amazing! Two parts of my life, hitherto compartmentalised, come together. Everything speaks to me in Laudato si’: the analysis of the situation, the famous formula “everything is linked”, Christ presented as mediator and savior between God and Creation. I love Pope Francis’ call to action, so much in my temper. But it was Saint Francis of Assisi who “finished the work” of the pope, by reminding me that I am a creature, like the pebble or the blade of grass that I tread on. It is God who saves Creation, through Jesus. Not me. And our participation in his action includes the praise that returns to him. Everything is gift.

My mission, I feel, now consists of calling on Catholics to ecological conversion. My non-Christian eco-friendly friends, including the most critical of religion, welcome me to the collectives of activists under the Green Church label. They hope to see their actions succeed. I have theological hope. God does not abandon his Creation.

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