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Bishops of England and Wales renew call to care for creation

CareOfCreationIn the opening lines of his encyclical on the environment, Laudato sì, Pope Francis describes the earth as “burdened and laid waste, among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor”.

In their statement, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales return to that encyclical as they highlight the urgency of the current environmental crisis. The earth, they write, “cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our own irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”

The Bishops go on to outline the extent of the ecological crisis, and to suggest a Catholic response. This includes inviting the Catholic community in England and Wales to take up the challenge to adopt a new lifestyle. “We the Bishops of England and Wales commit ourselves and invite our people to engage in this urgent challenge”, they write, “so that together we show leadership by our actions”.

Those actions include encouraging individuals, families and communities, to find more environmentally sustainable solutions. For example, Catholic churches and schools are gradually moving away from fossil fuels by switching to renewable gas and electricity. More than 4,500 have already done so.

The Bishops are also inviting Catholic communities to share their stories of successful environmental projects. These may be as easy as keeping a community garden, installing bike racks, going plastic free, finding innovative ways to reduce waste – or quite simply, planting a tree.

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Pope Francis hospital ship brings Word of God, health care to Amazon region

BarcoHospotalThe “Pope Francis Hospital Ship” has arrived in the Archdiocese of Belem, and is set to begin work in areas of the Amazon region which are accessible only by river.

At a ceremony for the launch of the vessel, a letter from Pope Francis was read, in which the Pontiff expresses the “great satisfaction” with which he joins those taking part “in this moment of joyful thanksgiving to God.” He notes that the hospital ship “will bring the Word of God and offer access to better health care to the most needy people” along a stretch of the Amazon extending around one thousand kilometers.

“In addition to being a beautiful concrete gesture in view of the Synod of Bishops for Amazonia,” the Pope says, “this river hospital is above all a response to the Lord's mandate, who continues to send His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” In fact, the Holy Father says, the “primordial mission” of the new hospital ship will be to promote the “abundant life” that Jesus offers to all men and women.

In his letter, Pope Francis recalls once again the image of the Church as a “field hospital” which “welcomes everyone without distinction or conditions,” noting that with this new initiative, the Church can also be seen as a “hospital on the water.”

“Just as Jesus, in appearing walking on the waters, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples,” he says, “this boat will bring both spiritual comfort and calm to the upheavals of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate.”

The Holy Father concludes his letter with a word of thanks to Bishop Bernardo Bahlmann of Óbidos (Brazil), the main proponent of the initiative, along with the Franciscans of Providence, for “this beautiful sign of faith and Christian solidarity.” 

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