“Jubilee for the Earth” is a podcast mini-series about biodiversity and our sacred story produced by the Missionary Society of St. Columban. We are a Society of priests and lay people who live and share the good news of the Gospel by working with those who are poor and exploited, including the earth.
Over the course of six episodes, we’ll explore the beauty of biodiversity and the threats it faces. We’ll travel around the world to hear from Columbans who are working to renew the face of the Earth. Grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, we hope that this podcast will help us all to see how caring for our common home is fundamental to our lives as people of faith and as global citizens.
BONUS: The Death of Life
For this bonus episode of “Jubilee for the Earth,” we want to share with you select passages from The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction by Columban priest and eco-theologian Fr. Sean McDonagh. Fr. McDonagh’s work on biodiversity has had a wide reach – most notably, being used to inform the biodiversity sections of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.
Though it was written in 2004, much of Fr. Sean’s message is truer today than when it was first written.
The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction is a passionate plea to take action before it is too late - to save the many thousands of species currently under threat of extinction, who give glory to God by their very existence.
A New Beginning
Our challenge today as people of faith is to reimagine the Biblical vision of Jubilee for the earth and all people for the 21st century.
In our age of ecological crisis - where rampant consumerism and indifference to the holiness of Earth’s biodiversity is the default - how can each of us help build a movement to care for our common home and begin a new chapter in Earth’s history?
No Land to Live On
Because of the damage we are inflicting upon the Earth, more and more land is becoming uninhabitable. In 2017 alone, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict, poverty, or environmental factors, more than at any point in human history.
Climate change and biodiversity loss create environmental conditions that strain local economies and exacerbate conflicts for scarce resources. In these situations, it is always those who are living in poverty or are forced to the margins of society that suffer the most.
The Earth’s resources - which have been entrusted to us - are for the life of the whole world. They do not belong to a wealthy minority, or even a human minority.
Nonviolence for the Earth
Columbans have come to believe that violence done to the Earth itself is a part of war, whether through habitat destruction, the extraction of resources for weapons, or the murder of environmental defenders.
We see all too frequently how many international and national laws that are designed to protect fragile ecosystems and human rights are disregarded when they get in the way of military growth and profit-making.
As people of faith, we have a responsibility to practice nonviolence. We can do this by choosing to live simply and sustainably, by preventing conflicts before they become violent, and by advocating against the rapid expansion of militarism around the world.
We need this not only to save human life, but to save all life on Earth.
Embarking on the Path of Dialogue
The call to wonder at the beauty of creation, and in doing so give praise to God, is at the heart of most of the world’s religions and spiritualities.
In his encyclical letter on the environment, called Laudato Si’, Pope Francis acknowledges that “the majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers. This [then] should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity (LS 201).”
We believe that the combined spiritual resources of the world’s faiths is a crucial component in guiding humanity away from its earth-killing lifestyle and towards a more holistic and sustainable kind of living. All believers have an inherent spiritual and religious responsibility to help care for our common home and to do so together.
A New Kind of Economy
In 2019, the United Nations published their “Global Resource Outlook,” which concluded that “90% of biodiversity loss is caused by resource extraction and processing.” This includes human activities like habitat destruction for agriculture and mining and the over-consumption of natural resources like non-renewable energy and fishing stock.
“We need to grow in the conviction” Pope Francis says, “that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development” (LS 191).
In the second episode of “Jubilee for the Earth,” two members of the Columban team for justice, peace, and ecology discuss the urgent need to reimagine how our economy operates and to redefine what human flourishing looks like.
Helpful perspective on a pressing issue
Highly recommended !
I really enjoyed the first episode and plan to keep listening! I found it very interesting how the interviewees interwove scientific discussion regarding biodiversity loss / the climate crisis and a religious viewpoint on the problem.