Our lack of commitment to drastically reducing our carbon emissions is a structural sin that calls for a conversion in our society. That’s what Dr Kevin Hargaden, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice told Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications in a recent interview. (December 2020). He was speaking to her as news came through that Ireland was the worst of 57 countries for its carbon emissions.
The interview itself was scheduled to mark the launch of the JCFJ’s new green policy document, entitled Manifesto for a New Green Deal. (Click here to view or download as a PDF.) In the interview (listen above) Kevin Hargaden outlines how their policy document differs from that of other environmental groups.
The JCFJ’s policy is influenced by Catholic social teaching, he says, and they are committed and calling for an ‘integral ecology’ approach as advocated by Pope Francis in Laudato Sí. Integral ecology, he says, works from the premise that an ecological crisis is a central piece of a social crisis, and if we are to save our planet, then every sector of society must be affected and involved in the transformation.
Kevin Hargaden believes this analysis can be shared by believers and non-believers alike, by people of all faiths and none. And the centre is calling for democratic dialogue at every level of Irish society. We need local communities and parishes to start having a real conversation about this issue together, as well as the government and its agencies. This is an Ignatian or Jesuit way of proceeding, he notes, adding that it has to start happening right away.
“We are not facing a pending crisis ecologically,” he says, “we are in one right now and it is frightening. No other issue, be it poverty, homelessness, the food and agribusiness, whatever, can be divorced from the central and most crucial issue of our times, the ongoing destruction of our environment, our world.” He acknowledges and welcomes the fact that many people in their own individual way are struggling to ‘go green’ piecemeal, by recycling, using the car less, making their homes ‘energy efficient’. But it’s simply not enough, he believes; what is needed is a complete societal shift.
He also admits that this will make for painful decisions arising from a whole new vision regarding the way we work, travel, shop, and structure our society. It’s not just the farmers who have to make changes, he contends; we all do. But he believes if this is done through community dialogue and engagement from all concerned, then real buy-in and change can happen. It won’t happen if it is simply imposed by well-meaning government bodies, he concludes – or even worse, by eco-fascists.