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María de los Dolores López Hernández, Geography Professor

Syrian refugees and the Pope's ecology

Thu, 10 Mar 2016 16:53:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

The drama of Syrian families fleeing death, hunger, desolation and so many other horrors continues to knock on our door. But Europe is still determined to close it and to "charge" Turkey to deal with the problem. UNHCR in its press grade of March 1, 2016 warns "that Europe is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis of which it is largely manager". Pope Francis is one of the world authorities who is making more appeals for solutions to the serious problem that Syrian people, Syrian families are experiencing. Last December saw the inauguration of the Holy Year of Mercy, in which the Pope calls for fraternity, to look at our brothers and sisters with sincere eyes, to respond to the suffering of those who inhabit the common home that is our planet. And among these brothers are, there should be no doubt, the brothers of the Middle East.

And this Year of Mercy follows in the wake of the Encyclical Laudato Si'. On Care for the Common Home. This inspiring text makes an urgent call, not only to institutions but also to all of us, in the singular, to rethink the damage that man is doing, we are doing, to nature, to sister earth, to brother sun, to brother bear¿ and also to other men, our brothers. This urgency for ecological conversion, already present in the teachings of St. John Paul II, so necessary for redirecting the destiny of the planet, passes through "listening both to the cry of the earth and to the cry of the poor" (Laudato si', 49). Along with this intimate relationship that exists between social problems and environmental problems, another of the ideas, intimately linked to the previous one that also runs through the entire Encyclical, is the strong connection of realities. "Everything is connected" (Laudato si', 117).

It is neither possible nor coherent to be concerned about nature without being concerned about our brothers and sisters, nor to be concerned about our brothers and sisters while forgetting about nature. They are intimately related and inseparable realities.
But this call is not only aimed at raising our awareness, at making us aware of the reality that surrounds us, of the damage that our planet is already suffering, and within it especially nature and the excluded populations. This call is, above all, directed to act, to change the paradigms that govern our social, cultural, economic and political model in order to leave to future generations a world. And besides a world, a better world. But we must act now. At this time and looking towards the Aegean Sea, we miss that solidarity that was the basis and one of the fundamental pillars in the European construction. A few months ago, in December 2015, at the Paris Summit on Climate Change, we experienced a historic moment with the signature of a agreement to combat global warming. Hopefully we will soon see a resounding, clear, supportive, fraternal, effective and efficient response from those same 195 countries of the world to the plight of so many Syrian families.

These ideas and many others will be discussed at the workshop Ecology and Human development to be held on March 18 at the University of Navarra, which seeks to encourage, with the contributions of scientists from different disciplines, both study and reflection and practical commitment to the proposals made in the Encyclical.