Living the Change at the Synod

October 28, 2019

It’s one thing for clergy or lay people to attend a key Church meeting in an official capacity. It’s quite another to do what 40 bishops and lay leaders did after the Amazon synod: promise to personally live more sustainably and in greater solidarity with the people they serve.

Bishops and lay leaders signed a pact to do so during an Oct. 20 Mass at the Catacombs of Domatilla in Rome. In part, they promised that, “Before the avalanche of consumerism” … they will pursue a “happily sober lifestyle, simple and in solidarity with those who have little or nothing.”

The pact echoes a similar pledge made by 45 bishops in 1965 at the Catacombs. Both documents shun a life of privilege for the clergy in favor of finding common cause with the poor and vulnerable. Yet the 2019 version also calls signers to “abandon … all types of colonial mentality and posture,” as they proclaim the Gospel and protect the indigenous people and resources of the Amazon. On a personal level, the signers promise to use public transportation when possible, reduce the amount of waste they produce and limit or stop their use of plastics.

For Catholics, the notion of sustainability is deeply rooted in our faith and social teaching. We are called to be faithful stewards of the world that God has made for us and all generations to come. As a patron for this work, Pope Francis holds up St. Joseph, custodian of the universal church: “He can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us. (Laudato Si’ 242)

Even without a pact, individuals and churches can begin this work now in their lives and parishes. The Living the Change program from GreenFaith shows how large and small changes can make a substantial difference. For instance, did you know that 25 percent of airplane pollution occurs during takeoffs and landings? If you must fly, choose non-stop flights instead of layovers. For more great ideas, look here.