‘Care for the environment to become a key part of who we are as a diocese’: Bishop Andrew

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, says in the very near future he intends to make care for the environment a key part of who we are as the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. He was addressing the annual Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Synod which, unsurprisingly – like his episcopacy, so far – has been dominated by COVID-19 and which because of the pandemic was meeting online.

It would not just be insensitive, Bishop Andrew said, but plain wrong not to acknowledge the enormous loss and heartache, and the great challenges, that Covid had brought to individuals, families and to the church. Like many in our parishes, he said, he had known only too well the pain of loss during this time. But he had looked on “with admiration and a true sense of pride” at the way the diocese had responded to a challenge unprecedented in our lifetimes.

“The enforced and, indeed, unwelcome changes that the pandemic demanded of us nevertheless showed us that we are far more capable, far more adaptable and far more creative than we ever could have believed,” the Bishop said. The task of rebuilding, reconnecting and renewing was the responsibility of every one of us, Bishop Andrew said, not just a few.

Looking ahead to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow later this month, Bishop Andrew said politicians – especially world leaders – had a crucial part to play. “But the message is clear: we all have a role to play; churches have a contribution to make; each one of us has a responsibility; each one of us can make a difference. The story of creation is the very first story in the very first book of the Bible. Part of our discipleship, part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, is that we are called to care for creation.” Bishop Andrew suggested that if Synod delegates wanted to find out how they could help save the planet they should ask their children or grandchildren. The younger generation ‘get’ this, he said.

“In the very near future, I intend to make care for the environment a key part of who we are as the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe,” the Bishop said. “This will require not just words but action on our part, across all our parishes. It will be challenging, no doubt, but I’m convinced the time is right. In fact, the time has never been more right.”