Friday, 27 November 2009

Equality and Ecology

Tina Beattie has restarted her blog - and I'm delighted. I too - like so many - am horrified by the recent Dublin Diocese findings, and the many other terrible crimes that have lain undiscovered and unchallenged for decades under heavy, immovable clerical respectability. The light of truth and penitence needs to shine on these findings and nothing short of a Truth and Reconciliation process will begin to heal the wounds.

Tina and I have been talking about all things Catholic for a while, and as she has made the case for a review of sexuality and the Church so much more clear and human, I have - hopefully - tried to show that care for the planet we walk upon and the creatures who share our space is not to be reduced to campaigns to change lightbulbs or hand wringing over extinction rates. Our relationship with the natural world embraces all that it is to be fully human, to live dignified, compassionate and empathetic lives, and to view oursleves as humble creatures of God, alongside all others.

We are changed by our actions and we can become more or less human by even small acts of disregard and disrespect. We are diminished when we fail to see the deeper meanings and teachings behind the everyday, and that can apply to how we view a robin in the garden or how much we recycle. Archbishop Rowan Williams puts it beautifully:

"If I ask what’s the point of my undertaking a modest amount of recycling my
rubbish or scaling down my air travel, the answer is not that this will
unquestionably save the world within six months, but in the first place
that it’s a step towards liberation from a cycle of addiction that is keeping
me, indeed most of us, in a dangerous state – dangerous, that is, to our
human dignity and self-respect".

And if we cannot respect ourselves because we are distorted by acts which leave us with a dissonance that sets up conflict and uneasiness about what we are, then we cannot wholly respect others.

By adopting a more mindful approach, a more humble view of who and what we are - without ever compromising our sense of self-respect - then it will be impossible to dismiss the right to equality and full dignity of millions of people in the Catholic Church who feel dis-empowered, under-valued and marginalised. When we gain a true understanding of ecology, behaviour, interconnectedness and whole-functioning of life then we begin to touch on what it means to be fully human, and that doesn't mean fitting an idealised model.

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