On Gaudete Sunday the world awoke to good news which people may call a miracle. Approximately two hundred individual nations listened to one another. They mirrored ever so surely or tenuously (only time will tell) Pope Francis’ call to listen to one another. The Paris Summit on Climate Change “recognized that we are compelled to heed” the universal cry for help. (Laudato Si 15)
This listening and consensus were lauded on the BBC web site as “historic.” Key elements of the agreement include: real numbers; specific goals to be accomplished within a definite time frame; using Mother Nature as a gauge; setting specific rules of accountability and transparency, and most amazing of all, providing “climate finance.” According to this last provision, rich countries are to help poor ones to “adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.” The poorest countries in the world have suffered the most from climate change. Ironically, they are the least able to finance the necessary changes. And it is imperative that they participate. It is an “all in” scenario. Climate unites the human family.
Another remarkable aspect of the agreement is that it is visionary. The summit members look to the twenty-second century as a time to reach goals. This both places hope in the future and trusts the next three generations to keep the plan moving in its proposed direction.
All these elements parallel the thoughts presented in Chapter three of LAUDATO SI. After defining some of the “human roots” of our present crisis, Pope Francis assures the world that the very developments in technology and science of the past can help in correcting our present situation and impacting the future. What is needed now is “a distinctive way of thinking, policies, an educational program, a lifestyle, and spirituality,” (LS 111) which together resist a solely technocratic paradigm. Without this universal transformation of mind and heart, efforts to address isolated problems will prove futile. Pope Francis reflects confidence in the sense of the people (LS 113).
Wisdom nudges the human families into realizing that the future holds little hope if we remain in the status quo. The Spirit of God hovers over the world helping humankind to help ourselves. With such vision and hope Christmas and the light and warmth it brings revives not only our spirits but the sense the world working together to preserve our common home is possible.
Notre Dame Sister Mary Deborah Carlin is retired from many years as a high school teacher and parish Religious Education Director. She currently is ministering as a volunteer at Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon, OH.