Last weekend, Catherine Devitt of FaithInvest had the pleasure of joining Faith Plans partner, the Focolare Movement, at their ‘Mariapolis’ gathering in Stockholm, Sweden.
'Our planet is essential for life to exist. Therefore, a healthy ecology is the foundation of peace. We can only build peace and brotherhood on a planet that exists' – Chiara Lubich
The gathering brought together members of the Focolare Movement from across Sweden, Finland and Norway, with part of the event focusing on the theme of faith and ecology.
The session opened with a quote from Focolare founder, Chiara Lubich (1991): 'The health of the Mystical Body, of humanity, is peace. And the health of the cosmos is ecology. I have the impression that in the future there will be a great ecological development in our Movement because we have to save the natural environment.
'In the same way that one has to be alive and not dead in order to work at becoming a saint, so too must the planet be alive in order to provide a home for humanity. (...) Our planet is essential for life to exist. Therefore, a healthy ecology is the foundation of peace. We can only build peace and brotherhood on a planet that exists.'
Catherine talked about the interconnectedness between care for the earth and peace building. She outlined why the environmental crises should be an issue of huge concern to faith communities and what this means for how faith groups respond. Catherine explained how we are at a turning point in the unfolding of our human and planetary story.
'Faith communities are called to leaders in bringing about a profound transformation towards a more just and sustainable world,' she said. 'They are now being called to dig deep and draw on the richness of their values and the reach of their resources to bring us into a time of renewal and recovery. Faith communities must be prepared to help build a new economics that is appropriate for the needs of our time.'
Catherine noted that with its emphasis on an ecumenical spirituality of unity, the Focolare Movement is particularly well placed.
'Faith communities must be prepared to help build a new economics that is appropriate for the needs of our time' – Catherine Devitt
Care for the Earth is now a top priority for the Movement; its EcoPlan comprises five aims central to this vision. These aims include inspiring members and communities in the Focolare Movement to align lifestyles with safeguarding people and planet, raising awareness, expressing the strong ecumenical and interreligious dimension of the Focolare, and developing local ecological plans drawing on the Focolare unique spirituality of unity.
There was a deep interest and enthusiasm about the issue, with attendees eager to discuss not only the interconnected causes of the ecological crises but also the solutions that the Focolare Movement can lead on. The gathering took place on an island outside of Stockholm, and attendees had time to connect with the beautiful forest and lake surroundings.