Human children are so incredibly vulnerable, counting on us adults to insure that they are safe. This includes the natural world in which they live and breathe, a world that was made by God, the designer and maker, as Isaiah writes: “Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in.” Climate change is a source of trouble for all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, social class – there is only one atmosphere, only one earth, only one great ocean, only one finite planet we all share. But climate change and the degradation of the earth and its resources disproportionately affects those who are poor and live at the margins. 2020 was the hottest year on record, mostly as a direct result of our use of the resources of the earth as if they were entirely infinite. Clean water, clean air, soil that can produce crops, trees that replenish the earth and air – all of these are being threatened by our use and abuse of the earth’s resources. Children do not choose to be born. They do not choose the place into which they are born, or the parents to whom they are born.
They live with the results of our choices. UNICEF estimates that more than 1 billion children are “at an extremely high risk” of the impacts of the climate crisis. Drought and resulting starvation, pneumonia and asthma from poor air quality, floods forcing migration, groundwater contamination and lack of clean water – all of these are parts of the environment into which vulnerable human babies are born around the world. It is our job as adults to keep them safe, for it takes a village to raise a child. How will you be part of that village? The Christ Child gasps for air and cries for food today, right now. Emmanuel, God with us.
Laudato Si’ quote:
160. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.
- “What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?
- What need does the earth have of us?”
- My dad used to say you don’t get to die until the work God intended you to do is done. Why are we here when others are not?
- What work does God have for you and me to do, and how might I find new ways to do that work for the benefit of others, especially women and children?
Your World, Climate Change Prayer Booklet, Caritas New Zealand
God, you created the world with your dream of what it could be. You dreamed of people and plants, animals and air, all living in right relationship to you and to each other. Today we offer to you our dream for a world which is not threatened by a changing climate which hurts our atmosphere, which wounds the poorest and most vulnerable, which leaves this wonderful planet in poor shape for future generations. Help us to listen to your voice, your Word, and your creation. In your name we pray. Amen. Adapted from Dream for the World, Center for Ministry Development and Catholic Coalition for Climate Change.