Thursday, 14 September 2017 16:18

We will not remain silently complicit...

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Message of the Carmelite Family International Congress on Justice,  Peace and the  Integrity of Creation

Fatima, Portugal, 28 July 2017

1) Representative members of the Carmelite Family gathered in Fatima, Portugal to reflect on issues of JPIC during the International Congress on the topic of Carmel Engages with Laudato Si’: Hearing both the Cry of the Poor and of the Earth (cf. Laudato Si’ 49).  The Prior General reminded us of the journey that the Carmelite Family has followed from the Second Vatican Council to the present in which its commitment to justice and peace has matured greatly. It is important to remember previous Carmelite documents from Councils of Provinces which are milestones on this journey. It was also good to hear how much involvement there is within the Carmelite Family concerning issues of JPIC.

2) We were inspired to reflect on our tradition, particularly the story of Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21). The complicity of silence which led to Naboth’s death was striking, and this began a reflection on our own silence and complicity in the face of the current social and environmental challenges present in our world today. Such a reading of the signs of our time is an essential element of our Carmelite charism.

3) Following a succession of papal pronouncements, from Pope Paul VI to Pope Francis, the Church has moved from the idea that we have dominion over the earth (Gn 1:28, 2:15) to an understanding that we are “citizens in the garden of God”(Carm-el-ites). Pope Francis takes that teaching in Laudato Si’ and offers us a comprehensive and integral approach to the relationships of human beings towards God, the earth and others, in which he makes explicit the link between the degradation of nature and the suffering of people under the power of an economy of infinite growth and overconsumption.

4) The encyclical Laudato Si’ was welcomed greatly by many people outside and inside the Church. The former Secretary General of the U.N. thanked Pope Francis for speaking up for global action in the face of the urgent need to preserve our common home. The encyclical is part of a chorus of voices of many worldwide religious traditions. There is a growing gap in inequality among peoples regarding basic needs. One-quarter of the world’s population consumes 80% of its goods. 

5) Pope Francis provides an ‘integral ecology’, which brings together elements related to spiritual, ethical, social, environmental and economic issues, as a way forward that helps us appreciate our own Carmelite charism in new ways. “Care for our common home requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.” Encouraged by the biblical narrative of Naboth, we will not remain silently complicit in the destruction of our common home. We urge our Carmelite Family to join us in a commitment to study, prayer and the performance of very simple gestures that will contribute to substantive change in our lifestyles. The culture of indifference is one of the key challenges within our communities and societies. Blessed Titus Brandsma, along with many other Carmelite saints, reminds us “We are not called to do great things. We are called to do the ordinary things in grand style.” We find the encyclical Laudato Si’ to be stimulating both for prayer and study and we would heartily recommend it to the whole Carmelite Family. In the light of the above, we invite the whole Carmelite Family to be an advocate for change and justice and to announce the living God following the model of life of the Prophet Elijah.

6) We therefore recommend to Carmelite Family leaders - Superior Generals, Provincials and local superiors - to support the creation of viable JPIC structures from local community levels to work hand in hand with the international JPIC commission.  These organs will help spearhead local responses to the many social justice issues calling for involvement and commitment.

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