CRC-JPIC National Gathering

Co-Creating with the Spirit on the Cutting Edge: Actualising a Transformed Earth Community

More than 200 people from across Canada took part in a large National CRC-JPIC Gathering in Montreal October 5-7, 2011. The theme of this major event, organized by the Canadian Religious Conference, was “Co-creating with the Spirit on the Cutting Edge: Actualising a Transformed Earth Community”.

Mary Evelyn Tucker, founder and co-director of Yale University’s Forum on Religion and Ecology, was clear-cut on the role that religious communities are called to play in safeguarding the environment. Michel Venne, founder and director of Montreal’s Institut du Nouveau Monde continued in the same direction. "The ecological struggles have a social and spiritual dimension."

Climate change is affecting the health of our planet and of humanity. "The quality and the availability of air, water and soil are determining factors for preservation and developement of all forms of life." The deterioration of the environment can only aggravate conditions for people living in poverty both here and around the world. It is still possible to take action to restore the environment. "The challenge will be,” affirms Ms. Tucker, "to respond creatively and to mobilize a fresh vision and an invigorating moral force.” Here are a few suggestions for action:

Re-examine the tradition and resources of Catholic teaching, for example, covenant theology;
Rediscover the sacred nature of creation;
Understand the intrinsic value and interdependence of life in all its forms;
Understand that the environmental crisis is a moral crisis and therefore requires the need for a ecological conversion;
Recognition of responsibility for creation following the concepts of stewardship;
Develop an ethics of ecology that is meaningful to humans as co-creators of Creation.

Michel Venne believes that one of the first things to do "is to be aware of the links between environmental issues and social issues. The unification of these two dimensions increases the possibilities of bringing about change. It is important for organizations in the social sphere and those advocating for the environment to come together, know each other better, help each other and influence each other." It is also important to keep sustainable development in mind for our future generations. Youth are very aware of the ecological challenges and are convinced of the need to protect the environment. We need to learn to work together across the generations.

Women and men religious don’t need to become experts in ecology. They are asked instead to show solidarity and provide support for sustainable development projects, to take actions that protect the environment, to promote awareness in their communities, to make responsible choices to celebrate the beauty of creation and to be bearers of hope. "The world is counting on you" said Mary Evelyn Tucker and Michel Venne. The participants came away from the gathering energized and strengthened in their mission.