President receives contributors to ‘Laudato Sí: An Irish Response’

President Michael D. Higgins received Columban Fr Sean McDonagh along with all the contributors to the book ‘Laudato Si’ An Irish Response’ at Áras an Uachtaráin on 18 January 2018.

For over an hour, President Higgins spoke to the group about justice, ecology and spirituality, issues which feature prominently in the papal document.

According to eco theologian and editor of the book, Fr Sean McDonagh, “The President was thoroughly familiar with the encyclical and highlighted the place it should have in challenging the economic, social and ecological policies which are doing such damage both to planet earth and human well-being.”

He felt that every teacher in Ireland should be given a copy of the book ‘Laudato Si’ An Irish Response’, the Columban missionary explained.

“The meeting with President Higgins and the authors of ‘Laudato Sí – An Irish Response’ was very significant at the start of 2018. With a visit of Pope Francis to Ireland scheduled for later in the year, it was great to have the chance to discuss the Pope’s letter on ecology,” Dr Lorna Gold said afterwards.

“The group was very pleased to see the level of engagement of the President with Pope Francis’ teaching, and share his insights on ecology. I was particularly struck by the way he underlined the need to bring the message of Laudato Sí into a broader discussion, and particularly into schools. It was a wide ranging and deep discussion,” Dr Gold added.

Contributors to ‘Laudato Si: An Irish Response’ meet President Michael D. Higgins. Pic: Tony Maxwell.

In 2015 Pope Francis published ‘Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home’, the first papal encyclical devoted exclusively to the subject of the environment.

Released to glowing reviews both in the Christian community and beyond, it continues to prompt great debate on the future of our planet and the need to redouble our efforts in protecting the environment from untold devastation.

‘Laudato Si’ An Irish Response’ is a timely companion volume.

In it, Sean McDonagh has invited a host of eminent theologians, academics and environmentalists, all living and working in Ireland, to offer their own responses to this landmark work.

With voices from various backgrounds — anthropological, sociological and theological — Laudato Si’: An Irish Response explores what one contributor dubs the ‘disruptive power’ of Pope Francis’ encyclical and its crucial call for ‘ecological conversion’.

Professor John Sweeney described the President’s commitment to the content of Laudato Sí as inspirational. “He emphasised the need for society to adopt a broader vision, beyond pure economics,” he said.

“He stressed that the ‘recovery’ we need is not just about the economy. It is about societal and planetary recovery,” Professor Catriona Russell explained, while Professor Peadar Kirby said the President had led the group on “a rich and insightful exploration of many of the themes of our book” during the hour-long meeting

“He kept referring back to sections he had underlined in the text, showing the extent of his engagement with it. It was a memorable and intellectually nourishing encounter.”

Contributors to the book:
Donal Dorr
John Feehan
Lorna Gold
Seán Healy
Brigid Reynolds
Peader Kirby
Dermot A. Lane
Michael Punch
Cathriona Russell
John Sweeney
Sean McDonagh (Editor)