Creating a Climate of Change is this year's theme for the Share Lent Campaign by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development Peace. A number of Pope Francis' intentions are at the heart of the campaign: most notably, his Encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato Si' (Praise be to you), and the Jubilee Year of Mercy he has proclaimed. Development and Peace, our Church's organization in Canada for international solidarity, offers us concrete ways to respond to the Pope's invitations by working together to build a world more just and more in keeping with human dignity. What is proposed is truly an experience of the Church's long-standing tradition of referring to the "corporal works of mercy", which in turn point to the explicit commands of Jesus Christ. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Visit the imprisoned – including those caught in unjust economic and social structures, as the Pope has also reminded us.
The Holy Father's Encyclical calls us to hope. He invites us to consider a courageous question: "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?" This in turn leads us to other pointed questions: "What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us?" (#160) Our responses should help us see more clearly and honestly that what is at stake is our own dignity and that of every human being. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.
The earth is a marvellous gift from the Creator, but we are not its owners. We are its stewards. By working together, we can preserve our common home, and strengthened by the Spirit prepare the way toward a new heaven and a new earth.
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy invites us to be merciful and forgiving like our heavenly Father. God calls us to compassion, so as to open our hearts and eyes to the sufferings of others, understand them in their distress, and find ways to bring comfort and assistance. Development and Peace gives a wonderful opportunity to join our efforts with our brothers and sisters in the Global South who struggle to improve their conditions of life and to live in full dignity.
Thank you for being in solidarity with the mission and mandate that the Bishops of Canada have entrusted to Development and Peace. My brother Bishops and I are grateful for your commitment and for being generous in giving to this year's Share Lent collection.
May the Holy Spirit lead us through the Lenten desert with joy, as we allow him to reshape and transform our hearts and lives through hope and mercy!
(Most Rev.) Douglas Crosby, OMI
Bishop of Hamilton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops