Everything is connected – Chris Gleeson SJ

One of the qualities I most appreciate about Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ , is his commitment to the very Ignatian belief that everything is connected. Everything belongs. Unsurprisingly, the Pope reveals his Jesuit connection by linking all of us to creation: ‘We are part of nature, included in it, and thus in constant interaction with it (LS 139).’

Care for the environment bookends St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises – at the outset in the ‘First Principle and Foundation’, and at the end in the ‘Contemplation to Attain Divine Love’ where he writes lyrically about the active presence of God in creation.

Here, Ignatius refers to God working and labouring for us in every part of creation. Early on, the Pope points to his patron St Francis of Assisi, who shows how ‘inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace (LS 10).’

Care for the environment is therefore intimately connected with the quality of our relationships with God, with other human beings and with creation itself. ‘Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation’ is our prayer in offering the gifts each time we celebrate the Eucharist.

Let me share two stories of connection that have touched my heart during the writing of this editorial. The first comes from afar, but not so far that it did not move the soul. During Easter week this year, when we were savouring the joy and new life of Jesus’ resurrection, we heard the tragic news from Lahore, Pakistan, that a Taliban faction had taken responsibility for killing some 65 people and wounding more than 300, most of whom were women and children. What has become almost daily news around the globe, such that we are almost immune to the horror of these appalling incidents, really struck home forcefully. Lahore is where our Australian Jesuits have a mission and have done for many years. How were they faring in the midst of such bloodshed?

It did not take long to receive an answer. Renato Zecchin sj, in responding to a promise of prayers and support by Brendan Byrne sj, wrote: ‘It is disturbing and upsetting what happened last evening in Ghulshan Iqbal Park not so far away from where I now live in the school. It is a popular park for Christians and others to go to on the occasion of their Eids (festivals).’

‘The park was crowded. A month or so ago I was there with our 260 kids – Campus Playgroup and Nursery Children – for a sports morning.’

‘The dead and injured include both Christians and Muslims. I am told 20 were Christians. Many from the same family. People went to celebrate and enjoy themselves, but death and harm and suffering came.’