Since September 2020, the Belgian diocese of Liège has established a contact person for integral ecology, inspired by the environmental and social reflections contained in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’. Presently, the diocese is planning projects and initiatives to promote solidarity and safeguard creation.
In the diocese of Liège, Belgium, a group of volunteers called “Christians in Transition” was formed in 2017, prompting the diocese to declare itself a “Diocese in Transition” in the spirit of the movement started by the English writer and environmentalist, Rob Hopkins.
The volunteers have organised several initiatives dedicated to our common home, including observing the Season of Creation 2020, with an ecumenical prayer, a citizen’s forum, nature walks, and Masses dedicated to Laudato si’. They also prepared the ground for the creation of a contact person for integral ecology in the diocese.
In fact, Joaquim Lesne was hired in September 2020 and is engaged in formation for ordination to the diaconate. In this way, the diocese of Liège has taken steps to respond to the Pope’s 2015 encyclical and to promote the diocese’s ecological transition.
Initiatives already underway
Joaquim did not have to start from scratch with his job as some initiatives were already underway before his arrival.
For example, the Bethel project had, for some time, been welcoming people who were hurt with the aim of reintegrating them into society. They work mostly in vegetable gardens, based on “permaculture”, according to principles of sustainability and ethical management. They also have moments of sharing, prayer and creative activities.
Besides, there is the “Vent de Terre” cooperative which began a collaboration with the former “Carmel of Mehagne” which is now run by the Chemin Neuf community. It has two hectares of land made available for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. The religious and laypeople who help with these activities are often gifted baskets of vegetables. It also organises teaching activities.
New “green” projects
Joaquim Lesne is actively involved in several new projects.
One of them is the “Church in Plantation” program, launched in late 2020 with the goal of planting hedges, trees and orchards in the gardens of parishes, schools, associations and religious communities. This is a project that brings together people who are happy to make a concrete commitment, contributes to the care of creation and offers a deeply spiritual dimension.
Another initiative is a series of videos entitled “Clearer Ideas Thanks to Laudato Si’” for young people. Each month, a video highlights an idea about ecology, reflecting on the Encyclical.
Joaquim is also working in collaboration with other dioceses to create a “green church” in French-speaking Belgium. He is also working closely working EcoKerk in the Flemish dioceses, to guide Christians towards a “green” lifestyle and to solidarity, through awareness, prayer and action. He also plans to create a vegetable garden in 2021 to aid people in difficult situations around Liège.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.