Fr Denis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide and a Professorial Fellow in Theology at Australian Catholic University. He has been engaged in the dialogue between science and religion and in contributing to the developing field of ecological theology.
Fr Denis’ mission was to break open Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on Ecology and Climate, Laudato Si’ and he succeeded admirably. His gentle, informed approach inspires confidence, and he blended beautifully Pope Francis’ “new moment in Catholic social teaching” with practical examples of what the encyclical letter asks of each one of us.
“There is nothing like Laudato Si’ in previous Catholic social teaching although Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict did call for ecological conversion.
"With this far more developed work, protection of God's creation is now formally and permanently brought to the centre of Catholic social teaching."
Fr Denis made the point that ours is the first generation that has seen the earth as a single unit, our “common home” – thanks to images captured by astronauts.
Just a few salient points:
- Nature as a whole is a locus of God's presence.
- The Spirit of life dwells in every living creature and calls us to enter into relationship with him.
- The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely.
- "Creation is in the order of love. God's love is the fundamental moving force in all created things.” (Wisdom 11:24)
- Every creature is the object of the Father's tenderness, who gives it its place in the world.
- Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of God’s love.
- The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things.
As well as Fr Denis’ keynote addresses, Manager of Mercy Services at Tighes Hill, Lawrie Hallinan, and member of the Social Justice Council, John Hayes, shared their experience of, and commitment to, care for our common home.
Each is ‘walking the talk’ in the different dimensions of his life.
Fr Denis said, “Every time I read Laudato Si’ I find myself newly inspired” and I think Lawrie and John would agree.
While everyone present was open to Fr Denis’ insights, the question of loving the mosquito (fly, cockroach…) was raised. Fr Denis answered diplomatically: “If you have to kill one of God’s creatures, do so with regret.”