The youth of St. Martin de Porres parish, Soweto and the Jesuit Social Apostolate of South Africa, joined forces to organize a dialogue and discussion on The Care Of Our Common Home. The workshop that took place on the 30th of September at St. Martin de Porres church, in Orlando West, was very fruitful and informative, and an eye – opener for many who participated.
Participants learnt that when the Pope writes an encyclical, it is considered as the teaching of the Church and Laudato Si’ means “Praise to God”. When the Pope writes an encyclical he wants us to read it, reflect on it and lastly act on it, put the text to action!
Pope Francis is particularly concerned about the world because of deforestation, droughts, global warming, pollution and biodiversity. He offers several reflections:
- On the problem of the environment;
- How we as humans contribute to these environmental problems; and
- Possible lines of action and ecological conversion.
One of the key thematic areas of focus at the dialogue was the issue of water. An observation was made that, in 2021 Johannesburg may not have enough water to provide for the needs of residents. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls to our attention that “access to safe, drinkable water is a basic and universal human right”. However the Holy Father also makes the point, which I agree with, that we are a very wasteful generation, because we fail to conserve a simple but important resource like water, and instead we waste it!
Another factor that leads to water wastage is the problem of little knowledge and education around its importance and conservation. Later on in life, scarcity of water will lead to an increase in diseases. The audience was also informed that climate change means we no longer get the amount of water we need! We were left with very wise and fruitful words – “Change your mind-set, it’s not the government or municipality’s water, it’s yours – use it wisely”.
The debate also addressed human beings being selfish and choosing money over the environment, and technology as a concept that aims to improve people’s lives, but which if left unchecked, damages the environment.
The participants further discussed deforestation, which is a huge problem in the world because we only have two major forest basins in the world, the Amazon and the Congo forest Basin, categorized as “the Lungs of the World”. Chopping down trees means, therefore, that we are destroying the balance of life in the world. As young people, we explored the need to develop an ecological spirituality, as Pope Francis reminds us that the way we treat our environment determines our morality. The Pope created a Prayer for our Earth, and a Christian Prayer in Union with Creation, both of which are in the encyclical Laudato Si’.
The workshop helped us to appreciate that every baptised Christian has the responsibility to look after the environment. As young people of St. Martin de Porres, Orlando West, we feel that the workshop empowered us to care for our common home, as the youth of today and the future of tomorrow!