May 24, 2023 | Blog

A Lesson in Solidarity and Creation Care.

We in New York City received a valuable lesson this week on the principles of solidarity and Creation Care. Two principles of Catholic Social Teaching that were observed with the eerie smoky atmosphere that engulfed our city. Solidarity in Catholic social teaching is a principle reminding us that we are all interconnected. What affects one affects us all and we are all morally responsible for one another. Creation Care (typically called the Integrity of Creation) is the principle that recognizes our moral responsibility for taking care of Creation.  

A few weeks ago, many of us heard about the massive forest fires affecting Canada. I certainly knew about and reacted in much the same way as I would react to natural disasters affecting Asia, the Caribbean or other distant parts of the globe. But the difference for many of us was the way this affected us this week. My pictures above testify to the damaged and dangerous air quality that became part of our experience. For those who suffer from asthma, and other respiratory conditions, this situation became a health hazard.  

This natural event testifies to the reality of solidarity in nature. Sr. Ruth Bolarte tells us as the Body of Christ we must recognize that “when one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers.” The image of the Body of of Christ reminds us that we are one human family. Cardinal Tagle tells us in the video below that:

Solidarity in Catholic social teaching is based on our common belief that everything was created by God so all creatures are related to one another in this one beautiful community called creation… If I am in Solidarity, I will also try to go to the roots of what makes people suffer, and I will be willing, as an act of solidarity, to do what I can according to my state of life, my expertise, to help solve those things.

Solidarity is very closely connected to our call to maintain the integrity of creation. We are interconnected with the rest of nature, and this must be recognized as we explore the principle of solidarity in how we respond to natural disasters. Nation-states have borders that allow them to govern efficiently but as we can see natural disasters respect no borders. For that reason, Pope Francis tells us in Laudato Si’, that must consider regional and global policies that promote our care for creation.

Relations between states must be respectful of each other’s sovereignty but must also lay down mutually agreed means of averting regional disasters which would eventually affect everyone.

As part of the NYC Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), organizations like Catholic Charities recognize the need to be attentive to increasing natural disasters and the increased effects of disasters like these Canadian forest fires. We have heard about the fires out in the Western United States, but like gun violence and school shootings, we are just getting more and more used to this. We are becoming callous to the increase of natural disasters. Now, with our great city enveloped in this apocalyptic haze, we need to wake up from our social slumber, shake off our general indifference, and be in solidarity with one another in responding to the increase of natural disasters throughout our world.