Working together as one diocese united towards creating transformative change and healing for our common home
As a Diocese we have set ourselves a plan that is ambitious and understands the scale of change that is needed, and one that is grounded in Christian Hope and guided by prayer and Church teaching.
Our Diocesan Journey
It is several years since the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, where we were all called to undertake an ecological conversion, learning to care for creation and to protect our common home for generations to come. In the Diocese we responded at an individual, parish, school and diocesan level. These actions were encouraged not only by Laudato Si’ but by the Church’s commitment to care for creation, a responsibility that is grounded in many papal encyclicals and Catholic Social Teaching.
In March 2019, when Bishop John Arnold – who is the Environmental Lead for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales – wrote to everyone in our diocese calling on them to play their part in responding to climate change in small ways. In his letter, he asked us all to ‘think global, act local’ and highlighted the impact that making small changes in our personal lives can have.
In the same letter, Bishop John announced his plans to transform his home at Wardley Hall into an ambitious flagship project, that would become the Laudato Si’ Centre. You can read more about our Laudato Si project by clicking here.
Since March 2019 a lot of hard work and dedication by a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers means that at the Laudato Si’ Centre we have established educational and wellbeing spaces in the walled gardens, greenhouses, orchard, outdoor classroom. As well as a partnership to create a memorial woodland. Since the expansion into the woodland we have been able to offer an even more varied programme of retreats, courses and opportunities for children to explore nature through play. Bees are thriving across the hives in the walled garden producing award winning honey, which we sell. Our polytunnels and greenhouse are producing vegetables and herbs, which we share with visiting groups and individuals, the extra produce is donated to a local food pantry. Fruit trees have been planted throughout the outside space and are flourishing year on year.
Our wider diocesan environmental work cannot be detached from the work of the Centre, they are all tools to help us reach our goal of transformational change to care for our common home.
The 2019 pastoral letter was a catalyst for activity across the diocese as parishes and schools encouraged by the call to action looked to play their part. The work our parishes and schools have undertaken is inspirational, with small teams of volunteers they have turned overgrown, disused space into havens for wildlife. These projects are embracing Laudato Si’ as a core principle of our Catholic faith. You can find some examples and how you can make changes in your own parish and school here.
We are also proud to be the lead Diocese for the Guardians of Creation Project, we are helping shape and guide the first systematic framework for decarbonising the Catholic Church in the UK through guidance and tools. You can read more about the project here.
We have a diocesan commitment to a decarbonisation pathway that will aim to be carbon neutral by 2038. It is an important practical effort to reduce our carbon emissions and help repair and heal the damage we’ve done. The pathway is ambitious but realistic, science-based and balanced in relation to the wider needs of our diocese and the need to take swift and effective action. We know the diocese is responsible for emitting over 23,000 tonnes of carbon each year. To help inform our next steps towards decarbonising the diocese we undertook energy audits in over 300 diocesan buildings.
We understand the need for the Church to use its voice, its people, and its resources to create a different legacy for the next generation. A legacy built on joy, hope and renewal as we strive for a better way to live in harmony with our common home. We look forward to continuing on our journey with you.