There is a growing awareness in our lives that the world is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among people and nations but by a lack of respect for the environment. Continuing to disregard the fragile nature of our planet will seriously threaten our way of life and more importantly, deny our children and future generations the gifts of creation.

The Church has taken a position on many issues. We have generally referred to them as Catholic Social Teaching. Pope Francis now calls us to a new reality when he warns that it is a responsibility of our calling to make every effort to stop the destruction of our environment.

“Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it.”

It is not a religious dogma, it is a call to respect creation and to ensure that those who come after us have the opportunity to enjoy it. Like many other things it becomes a shared responsibility of our schools to ensure that they participate in this focus. Having regard for education of children as a whole requires us to make this an important part of our school programme. If we model what we want to grow then this generation will leave the children who come behind a legacy that is immeasurable.

As a young man I remember my father’s imperative about leaving something for the next generation. As a child of the depression he saw that as an important responsibility. I think his imperative is even more important now. Leaving money is good but leaving a self-sustaining planet is more life giving.

Paul Ferris