Caring for Creation Through Solar – Why Do This as Church?

Climate change is threatening all life on Earth. It is undermining God’s Creation and it will be the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us that are hit the hardest.

The call to care for God’s Creation is central to the Church’s teaching. As is responding to the plight of the poor. And doing so together not only means we are able to get the benefits of a ‘bulk buy’ but we can help build and grow our communities to be more connected and shaped by the values we hold to be important.

Installing power on our own homes is one simple way to respond to this challenge. For many of us, however, installing solar on your own home can seem like a daunting task. It feels technically complicated and picking a trustworthy solar company can seem impossible, and it is a larger investment so can feel risky. Not many of us understand the electricity system either and navigating both puts a lot of people off installing solar even before they’ve really begun the journey.

The Caring for Creation through Solar programme in a practical sense is about removing this difficulty, but we are also doing this in the context of our faith community because looking after the Earth is a central part of our Christian life. And as we all know we are always better able to live our Christian vocations together with others trying to do the same, to be encouraged, uplifted, and working together to be the best disciples we can be.

There are many elements of the Church’s teaching on Caring for Creation, many Popes have remarked upon its centrality to our faith. They remind us of Creation being a gift given freely to each of us with none of us more of a right to it than another, including those not yet alive. We are to be stewards of it, to share it, care for it in reverent wonder and gratitude.

The call to live this way has been especially renewed with in the last few years with Pope Francis’s Encyclical,  Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. He highlighted two essential and integrated elements – caring for the Earth at a time when its destruction is especially rapid and in doing so also caring for the poor who are bearing and will bear much of our neglect of Creation.

Caring for Creation

In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis has reminded us of our Eternal call to look after the gift of the Earth. In it Francis laments and warns against unmitigated consumerism and irresponsible development and the degrading and warming effects they are having on the planet. He calls all people of the world to ‘take swift and unified global action’. More than this, Pope Francis tells us that caring for the Earth is not an optional but ‘integral part of the Church’s teaching on social justice’.

Climate change caused by human use of fossil fuels and loss of natural tree cover is causing a build up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which is rapidly changing the climatic conditions across the globe. Increased extreme weather events and increased temperatures will unleash devastating impacts n the operations of the ecosystems on which we rely.

To be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.

 – Pope Francis

Caring for the Poor

Jesus’s example of caring for the poor has made emulating that behaviour a deep and longstanding tradition of the Church and what it means to be  people living the Gospel message. In her social teaching the Church teaches we should give ‘preferential option to the poor’, especially the materially poor. More than this we have an obligation to do so not out of charity but out of an obligation to justice. This is because God gave all of Creation to all of humankind without favour so that each of us can have and use what we need for a simple and dignified life. It is unequivocally immoral and unjust to take more than we need, and most especially so when doing this takes from and harms others.

Climate change is a result of such behaviour. The actions of a few powerful countries are harming the lives and landscapes of those less powerful. Climate change will ruin all of Creation but it will be the poor who suffer first and the most. All over the globe poor and vulnerable communities are already feeling the effects of climate change. We only have to look to our near neighbours in the Pacific to see this.

According to the World Bank, Pacific Island nations are some of the most economically and physically vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events. As the sea rises, land, especially agricultural land, is being inundated. This destroys subsistence farming on which most of the population relies, as well as people’s homes and neighborhoods.

Acting to avert dangerous climate change is a vital response to our faith. Taking part in the Caring for Creation through Solar project is one way substantive way you can do this and be supported through the process within a community. Together, we can do our share and create hope for the future!

Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’

To learn more about the stories of climate change for the poorer and more vulnerable visit the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

To learn more about the teaching in Laudato Si’, this Catholic Earthcare Australia video is a great place to start!