LETTER FROM A MINISTER
Do you still get letters?
I now only receive personal letters at Christmas and most of my written communication arrives by email. For many people even email is a bit dated, as there are now a number of other ways to send messages by mobile phone or computer. One person who still writes letters is the Pope. On important issues he sends letters to all the Catholic bishops in the world and they are known as encyclicals.
Pope Francis recently wrote an encyclical about how we treat our world. While this is an important contribution to green issues, the Pope goes a lot further. He asks the crucial question "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?" This makes it clear that the encyclical is not just about the environment, but about the whole purpose of our life on earth as individuals and as communities.
It is against this background that Pope Francis lays out his vision for our planet. He stresses in particular the vulnerability of the poor in the third world to climate change, because they feel its worst effects. Floods, for example, can have a devastating effect on whole communities and in many cases people who are affected lose all their possessions and their livelihoods. As Christians, for such reasons alone, we should do all we can to protect the environment. But it is not just the constant threat to such vulnerable communities that should motivate us to act but also what kind of world we want to leave to our children.
Deacon Klaus Reidel
St Bede's Catholic Church
[the text for the full encyclical may be found at On Care For Our Common Home ]