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September 28 2007:

Australian "eco-bishop" Chris Toohey is set to launch The Sound of Many Waters – a series of events run by Catholics in the UK to explore the need to care for our environment drawing upon Catholic teachings, insights and networks - at Clifton Cathedral in Bristol tomorrow, September 29th. The event has been assisted by ARC from an early stage. Link here for a BBC news story about the event. The talk is at 5pm and is followed by mass at 6pm.

It marks the first time Catholics in the UK have taken concerted action to promote environmental responsibility and it has been largely the initiative of Mary Colwell, a lay Catholic parishioner at Clifton and a producer of nature programmes at BBC in Bristol.

“In Australia, Bishop Chris works alongside politicians, scientists, environmental groups and a wide range of other communities to help promote environmental responsibility, adding a spiritual dimension to what is a huge social and political challenge,” Ms Colwell said.

This is a first step in a worldwide movement by Catholics to combat climate change and promote the idea of stepping lightly on the earth. Earlier this month, leading the first Catholic eco-friendly youth rally, Pope Benedict XVI was reported as saying that: “In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way.”

Stained glass from Clifton cathedral
It follows from announcements that the Vatican was exploring ideas of carbon neutrality by paying for the replanting of a forest on a denuded island in Hungary.

The second event in the Sound of Living Waters is a launch of a year long ecological audit for Catholic schools around the country - held at St Brendan's Sixth Form College in Bristol on October 4th, with guest appearance by Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, Mary Colwell and Coast presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff. A press release will be posted at this website on Monday, or go to the Sound of Many Waters website.

Background to Bishop Toohey's visit

Bishop Toohey, world leader in Catholic action on the environment and head of Catholic Earthcare Australia, is visiting England and Scotland this month to discuss environmental action with leading Catholics, Anglicans and Jews. It included discussions with Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh; Archbishop Mario Conti, of Glasgow; Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool; Dr Jonathan Sacks the Chief Rabbi; and the Anglican bishops Richard Chartres of London and James Jones of Liverpool. There were also visits to the Benedictine communities at Downside and Ampleforth as well as a public event in St Marie’s Cathedral in the Hallam Diocese.

Clifton cathedral in Bristol
“Bishop Chris is a passionate and engaging speaker. His concern is grounded in theological reflection. His visit will be a wonderful opportunity to share his experiences of bringing together Catholicism and the environmental movement,” Ms Colwell said.

Bishop Chris Toohey said: “It’s a great honour to be invited to make a contribution to Church in the UK’s exploration of the environmental situation we face. We’re all part of the human family and if any insight and some of the learning we’ve experienced here can be shared, it will be fantastic.” The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor sent a special message of support for The Sound of Many Waters. “Pope Benedict XVI recently said: 'In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way.' Sound of Many Waters opens that dialogue by bringing together so many groups in a spirit of cooperation. I hope the launch on the Saturday 29th of September goes well. The year-long series of events brings together those who have a commitment to our environment in an inventive and enjoyable way. My prayers and best wishes go to all those taking part.”

Bishop Chris Toohey

Most Reverend Chris Toohey is Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, Australia. Born in Sydney in 1952 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1982 after working for several years as a shipping agent on Sydney’s waterfront. He was ordained Bishop on August, 30th 2001.

From 1990 to 1992 he completed post graduate studies at the Gregorian University in Rome, specialising in fundamental theology. His thesis dealt with the humanity of Christ in the writings of John Henry Newman.

The Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes covers the western half of New South Wales and is almost the same area as France. It covers the “Outback” and includes a large aboriginal population. “Environmentally, the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes is fascinating. It includes Australia’s largest river system - the Murray Darling Basin. At the moment we are in the grip of drought, which people here tell me is unprecedented,” Bishop Toohey said.

In 2002, as part of the response of the Australian bishops to Pope John Paul II’s call for an “ecological conversion”, he was elected Chair of the newly established Catholic Earthcare Australia.

Bishop Toohey’s public events

Wednesday 12 September 7.00 pm Earthcare - The Celebration and Challenge of the Natural World with Archbishop Mario Conti and Mary Colwell.

Renfield St Stephen’s, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow. Further information from Father Chris Boles SJ 0131 228 6621

Thursday 13 September 7.00 pm

Earthcare - The Celebration and Challenge of the Natural World with Mary Colwell.

The Lauriston Centre, 28 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh. Further information from Father Chris Boles SJ 0131 228 6621

Sunday 16 September 10.30 am

Celebrates Mass at Westminster Cathedral, London SW1P 1QW

Wednesday 19 September 7.00 pm

Facing the Challenge - Faith and the Environment with Mary Colwell

St Marie’s Cathedral, Norfolk Street, Sheffield. Further information from Hallam Justice and Peace Commission 0114 234 3580

Sunday 23 September 9.30 am

Celebrates Mass at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, 114 Mount Street, London

Sunday 23 September 5.00 pm

Responding to Something Greater than Ourselves - Faith and the Natural World

Mount Street Jesuit Centre, 114 Mount Street, London W1K 3AH Further information from Lynne Galloway 020 7495 1673

Saturday 29 September 6.00 pm

Clifton Cathedral, Clifton Park, Bristol BS8 3BX

Helps launch Sound of Many Waters. Further information from 0117 973 8128.


Link here to read more Catholic Schools Eco Newsletters.

Link here to download ARC's leaflet focussing on Catholic Schools and the environment.

Link to the Catholic Earthcare website.

Link to the Sound of Many Waters website.

Link here for a BBC news story about The Sound of Many Waters.

Link here for an edited version of: THE CALL OF CREATION: GOD'S INVITATION AND THE HUMAN RESPONSE which was first published in 2002 by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, adding its voice to the many calling for urgent action to protect our earthly home from further destruction.

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Related pages

UK Catholics: The Call to Creation
"It is not wrong to want to live better. What is wrong is a style of life... directed towards having rather than being." A Catholic response to the environmental crisis.
Catholics on Climate Change
In December 2006 the Climate Institute, Australia, Catholic Bishops of Australia, invited the Catholic Bishops of Australia to particpate in the debate on climate change through issuing this statement.
January 5, 2009:
Catholic project helped by ARC wins award for podcast
Clifton Diocese took silver at the Christian Broadcasting Council Awards with ‘Journey - The Sound of Many Waters Podcast’ - a reflection on the diocese's year of acting and thinking ecologically, which was conceived and planned with ARC's help.