Time to move on environment, lay leader says

The Vatican and religious congregations have given a lead on environmental issues but "now it's time to mobilise the whole church starting with the laity", says MJ Ruben, an Indian lay movement leader.

"We welcome the example offered by the Holy See last week in signing an agreement on carbon offsets to make the Vatican the first 'carbon neutral' sovereign state," Mr Ruben, convenor of the Cardijn Community International (CCI), said in a statement.

Mr Ruben was speaking following a CCI meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Young Christian Workers founder, the late Cardinal Joseph Cardijn.

However, "the Vatican's move is a purely symbolic small initiative that tries to send a signal", Mr Ruben said.

"In a world where the topic of climate change is on everyone's lips, the whole church needs to act on this signal".

"Many religious congregations are also giving the lead on environmental issues," he said.

"Now it's time to mobilise the whole church starting with the laity."

Mr Ruben says that the church cannot afford to be left behind on such an important issue.

"If we look back on history, it is now commonly recognised that the church failed to act quickly enough to respond to worker issues during the 19th century industrial revolution in Europe," Mr Ruben recalled.

"As a result, the church 'lost the working class' as Pope Pius XI famously told the late Cardinal Joseph Cardijn in 1925," he said.

"The world cannot afford for the church to be late in addressing the environmental crisis."

"Cardijn gave the lead in mobilising the Church to reach the working class," he added, recalling the Belgium leader who continues to inspire thousands of young Christians.

"What the world needs now is a new generation of lay leaders to defend and sustain the world's fragile environment."

Cardijn Awards

In the statement, Mr Ruben also announced a CCI initiative to launch an annual series of Cardijn Awards which will be which will be designed to recognise individuals who have shown the example through their own action and involvement with their local communities and their church.

"We will be opening nominations for the 2008 Cardijn Awards in November this year. The inaugural award winners will be announced in July 2008," Mr Ruben said.

CCI is also holding an International Symposium on Cardijn to be held in Chennai, India on 10 November this year.

The Cardijn Community International is a network of people working for development in the spirit of Joseph Cardijn. It has chapters and/or members in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia and Zambia.

Time for lay people to act on environment (Media Release, Cardijn Community International, 31/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardijn Community International
Joseph Cardijn (Catholic Author)
The Ecological Conversion (Pope John Paul II)
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Carbon footprint (Wikipedia)

Carbon-conscious Religious aim to reduce eco-footprint (CathNews, 27/7/07)
Vatican signs up for a carbon offset forest (CathNews, 13/7/07)
Worms tackle environment at Korean "Green Church" festival (CathNews, 8/6/07)
Vatican goes solar (CathNews, 28/5/07)
Green pope says save Amazon (CathNews, 14/5/07)

1 Aug 2007