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Ecological conversion and mercy

During the Jubilee of Mercy, seven churches have been designated in Hong Kong as places of pilgrimage where people can prepare themselves to receive God’s mercy.

In a document declaring the Jubilee, entitled The Face of Mercy, Pope Francis stresses that the Church should care for the welfare of the underprivileged and future generations.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, which concluded in December, it was pointed out that it is the poor of the world who bear the brunt of climate change and pollution, and future generations will also face a shortage of natural resources.

Mercy comes in loving God and neighbour, as well as the earth. With the publication of the encyclical, Praise be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’), the Church has launched formation programmes to encourage care for creation. This has given mercy a deeper and broader meaning, as it is the foundation both of Church life and care for the environment.

Technology and social policies are tools for expressing love for creation, but the most important thing is that human beings should show love and mercy. The development of the spirit of mercy requires a change of custom and tradition, beginning from the heart and embracing every aspect of our lives.

To achieve change, we must first look at our own lives and habits. The Hong Kong Diocesan Study Group on the encyclical recently launched a programme called Angels on Earth, to urge people to implement the suggestions of the encyclical.

The seven symbolic angels represent seven dimensions of our lives: embrace creation, pray for the Earth, conserve energy, practice responsible consumption, follow a vegetarian diet, care for the poor and the sick, and be joyful.

Coincidentally, a pastoral letter issued by the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference two months ago in Taiwan makes the same recommendations. Following the appeal for ecological conversion made by the pope, the bishops spoke of the need for both internal and external repentance.

More importantly, we must protect the Earth, our common home, with mercy, and respond to the teaching of repentance during the Jubilee Year. “Ecological conversion not only examines personal lives, but also needs conversion in the hearts and the development of the spirit of the gospel which cares for the Earth. In ecological conversion, we must collaborate with others, unite the strength of the community and follow the generosity, self-sacrifice and good deeds of Jesus Christ.”

The spirituality of ecology is not only concerned with personal spiritual good, but also manifests the integral ecology stressed in the encyclical. This spirituality enables us to learn to reconcile ourselves with others and nature.

“Mercy is not opposed to justice, but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (The Face of Mercy, 21)

It is thus clear that in the face of the imminent climate crisis, mercy must be the driving force behind repentance and conversion, so that we can love God and his creation more.

Ecological conversion is an important call of during the Jubilee of Mercy, being reconciled with the damaged creation is as well. SE