By Kathryne Sparaco | Contribututing writer
Father Tim Taugher remembers well the first ever Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970. A student at Catholic Central High School in Binghamton at the time, he recalls the activity, the energy and the enthusiasm concerning plans to get involved and care for the Earth. But 52 years later, Taugher, now the pastor at St. Francis of Assisi in Binghamton, reflected on the threat that social sins have had on creation in his talk “Care of Our Common Home” held at the Spiritual Renewal Center on April 21. He urged people to educate themselves on how to better care for creation, live sustainably and put their faith into action to reverse the social immoralities that God’s creation has been victim to.
“Our future is in peril. More than 3 billion people live in an area affected by climate change,” Taugher shared, stating that creation itself is in the midst of “Good Friday,” due in part to global warming. “Creation is a gift from God. We are called to appreciate it. That relationship is part of our identity.”
That identity is drawn from the principles of Catholic Social Doctrine and rooted in Scriptures such as the goodness of creation from Genesis 1:31 and stewardship to the Earth in Genesis 2:15. “We’re called to have stewardship with creation,” he explained. “We’re called to be relational. Not just with one another, but creation. It’s the core of our faith.” Taugher takes Catholic Social Doctrine and its responsibilities seriously, as we are all called to do. “We have to be proud of this teaching,” he said. “It gives me the context of how to do my ministry.”
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, published in 2015, is a social treatise that speaks of the destruction humans have rendered to the environment and one another. Taugher spoke of the importance of taking this work seriously and asking ourselves: Is what I’m doing hurting the environment or promoting life? Looking at our ecological sins and addressing them is an important step for all of us to take. “We feel like we’re not impacted, but if the poor are impacted, so are we. If farmers are impacted because they don’t have the climate needed to grow food, so are we.”
This Easter Season, a time grounded in the idea of dying and rising, is the perfect time for renewal and empowerment for people to work together to listen to the voice of creation and make positive changes. “The end of Easter is Pentecost,” Father Taugher reminded the people attending his talk. “The Spirit moves us into action and transforms your thoughts and actions into new habits. Go into action with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Changes can be as simple as recycling and reusing more consistently, combining trips in your community, reducing non-green resources, using farmers’ markets for local food, and buying recycled paper products. Many websites offer resources and educational tools related to living sustainably. Visit www.catholicclimatecovenant.org or www.laudatosiactionplatform.org for more information.
Father Taugher is one of about 30 members of the Diocesan Care for Our Common Home Task Force whose mission is to promote and encourage prayer, dialogue and actions to highlight the beauty and importance of God’s creation. If you would like to join this Task Force, or start a Care Team at your own parish, contact Kathy Gosh at email@example.com.