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Theology Today

A vision of integral ecology CAFOD staff members Kezia Lavan (Brazil Programme Officer) and Francis Stewart (Theology Programme Advisor) reflect on an alternative vision for the future, inspired by Laudato Si’ and the work of CAFOD’s partners in Brazil.

This year, through Lent and Holy Week, many of us will have had an increased sense of entering the tomb with Jesus. Those of us who have not been venturing out ‘into the deep waters’, as workers in health and social care and critical supply chains, have been subject to lockdown. The feeling of entombment has been greater still for those of us who have lost loved ones and friends to the virus. As I am writing this, Easter has just come and we contemplate the mystery of the empty tomb, accompanying the disciples, in both their joy and bemusement, through the resurrection narratives. Though joyful, they don’t follow conventional ‘happy ending’ tropes. Instead, at times the resurrected Jesus seems to kick-start things again: ‘do not cling to me!’1 he says to Mary Magdalene in St John’s account – don’t hang around, go tell the others, there is much to be done! Yet it is not a return to busy normality that is announced. Something radically new has begun. It gains ground in the footfall of those who were at the tomb, who must forego the human touch of their resurrected friend and tell of the good news.

So now I am pondering what lies ahead, wondering what the world will be like when you are reading this article. As the Vatican Covid-19 Commission has highlighted, what will be the aftermath of the pandemic?

place from the sacredness of the Holy City. It was an area where people of different religions lived: it was the ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ (Mt 4.15).2

It has been a theme of Pope Francis’ papacy to turn people’s attention from the centre towards the periphery, and this has been especially exemplified by the calling of an assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Amazon, which took place in October 2019.

When the coronavirus first caused the lockdown of the CAFOD office in London, our Latin America regional team received a statement responding to the pandemic from Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte OFM, President of CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ conference. In one prophetic passage, Archbishop Miguel wrote: ‘The Synod for the Amazon region promoted by Pope Francis, has tried to turn our perspective upside down (invert, turn around) from centralist to local, from globalising to the peripheral, from standardising mono-cultural to singular, personal. If we do not know how to start again from this new perspective, science will heal bodies but not minds. If we do not know how to begin again from the marginal, it will be difficult to rethink the global that is now dramatically threatening.’

The voice from the periphery

During this year’s Easter Vigil, Pope Francis pointed out that the disciples are told that Christ will go before them on to Galilee. There are clear allusions to the promises of the Messiah’s coming found in the Old Testament. Yet the pope also highlighted another connotation:

Galilee was the farthest region from where they were: from Jerusalem. And not only geographically. Galilee was also the farthest

How do we rethink the global? It has, for a long time, been urgently important to do so, given the social, ecological and economic crisis we have been in the midst of. But perhaps now, more than ever, this question has become very tangible.

Another way of speaking of the global is to speak of the earth as a whole: not just as an amalgamation of places, but as an integral, interconnected unity. Not just an inventory of places and facts that exist but the composite of solidarity that the world could be.

July/August/September 2020 | Pastoral Review Vol 16 Issue 3 | 47

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