Archbishop Dermot Farrell.

Archbishop Farrell: ‘no magic bullet’ for crises of our times

The Westmeath-born Archbishop of Dublin has stated that there is “no magic bullet” to solve the “multi-layered” crises branching out from the central issue of climate change.

Launching his Pastoral Letter, The Cry of the Earth – The Cry of the Poor at the An Tairseach Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre in Wicklow yesterday, Archbishop Dermot Farrell described the climate crisis as “the major challenge confronting our planet” and “the defining issue of this generation”, and one which will “not be solved by sound bites or short-term actions”.

“Such a deep crisis defies easy solutions. There is no magic bullet,” said the Castletown Geoghegan native and St Finian’s College, Mullingar alumnus.

“Although scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades, there is still a long way to go to address climate change and loss of biodiversity effectively. Most people have not taken the enormity of the challenge on board.

“That said, it is not easy to take the enormity of this crisis on board, as the climate crisis is not simply about climate. It is a multi-layered crisis affecting all aspects of life: homelessness, housing, health, inequality, migration, and the economy as well as the quality of water, soil and air.

“It is vital that we see the human face of this crisis, that is both in the immediate and long-term effect on people, and particularly impacting the most vulnerable.”

In his Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Farrell referred to Saint John Paul II’s warning that human beings often seem to “perceive no other significance of their natural environment, but only those that serve the purposes of immediate use and consumption”.

“This short-sighted philosophy,” he added, “leads to the plunder of the earth and its poorest inhabitants”.

The archbishop called for a “change of heart”, and a “transformation from within [which] will only be effected by an encounter with the Lord of creation, and an encounter with Christ in each other”.

Archbishop Farrell pointed to the active role being taken by young people in promoting climate-related issues, and quoted the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg: “I’ve learnt that no one is too small to make a difference”.

“Is it just that those who contribute least to the climate crisis suffer the most from its effects, especially the poor, but also the younger generations?” he asked.

“In the meantime, developed economies, which are primarily responsible for climate change, pretend to ignore what is happening the Third World and refuse to take decisive measures.

“In Laudato Si, Pope Francis asks a very important question: ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’

“This is the same question being asked of us right now by the young people of the world.”