Cécile Renouard is founder the Transition Campus just south of Paris, ‘creating structure that’s lighter and more flexible than the big schools, universities and major corporations’

If we want to change things, we have to start by asking ourselves what a company is, and what it is for. It is a question of redefining the company as a collective project, financed by profit and compatible with general interest. We would move away from the definition of a business as a simple commercial company where people join together to make a profit, period. We need to change the way we conceive economic activity, positing that respecting planetary limits is not an option. Every company should be required to be mission driven!

The fundamental question is to conceive, culturally, that these transformations are necessary, that efforts must be shared and that certain efforts must be increasingly taken on by those who can pay. This observation must go hand in hand with a change in the way we look at ecological transition, which is not a punitive change, but a way of moving forward in a happy and united manner. We need political leaders who bring about this change by offering security to those worst-off and making the rich pay. There has never been so much capital across the planet, and investments are not being made in the right direction at all. We must be very clear on the job destruction required in certain sectors. A lot of jobs can be created in the area of transition, but we have to put ourselves in the line of battle between public authorities and companies to accompany this evolution, so that it is not a double punishment for those who are already in difficulty. Maintaining employment is not a legitimate objective in terms of ecological transition. On the other hand, we must be concerned with ensuring quality conditions of life for all, now and in the future. What does this imply in terms of social protection and universal income? What should we do about certain deadlocks linked to automation, to a digital economy that will not be the road to salvation? These issues must be addressed head-on. You bring strong proposals to the public debate: reforming capitalism, capping wages, abolishing mass aviation, etc. Are people shocked or even resistant to this because of the fact that you are a nun? Yes, I think so. I also think that being a nun helps to get messages across. When I started my thesis on the ethical responsibility of multinationals, the topic was enough to make certain leaders say: “It’s left-wing.” But it’s not. From the point of view of moral and political philosophy, it’s a question of analyzing the way things are going and identifying tensions.

The meaning of religious life: to make a sign. To make a sign on the side of commitment. My commitment to religious life gives me a freedom that others don’t have, and which sometimes surprises people. I know that in my congregation I will be taken care of. Even though we take a vow of poverty, in many ways we are not poor. But if religious life offers freedom, it also demands responsibility. One should not be afraid to take a stand. Pope Francis is emblematic of this freedom of tone that helps one ask the right questions. It is not a question of giving lessons, but of being clear about our complicity with structural evil. Behind this strong criticism of our institutions, of dysfunctions and structural evil, there is the message that everyone can do things differently.

The Catholic nun who has quietly started an ecological revolution – Assumptionist Sister Cécile Renouard is founder the Transition Campus in the rural French town of Forges just south of Paris – Assumptionist Sister Cécile Renouard born in 1968. Doctor of Philosophy. Co-founder and president of the Transition Campus.

By Aziliz Claquin | La Croiz

Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople have helped make ecological concerns — or, “care for creation”, as they would say — more prominent issues for Christians around the world. But many men and women religious communities have long been pioneers in fighting for ecological justice, environmental protection and a more responsible use of the earth’s resources.

Assumptionist Sister Cécile Renouard has long been part of this effort. Born in 1968 in Paris, she entered her religious congregation in 1991 and eventually earned a doctorate in philosophy, specializing in social ethics. Sister Cécile has had a career as a university professor and in 2017 she founded something called the Campus de la Transition or Transition Campus, which aims to help people towards more sustainable ways of living and interacting. She spoke about her efforts to La Croix’s Aziliz Claquin.

La Croix: Tell us more about the objective of the Transition Campus.

Cécile Renouard: I wanted to create a structure that’s lighter and more flexible than the big schools, universities and major corporations.

These institutions have difficulty moving, whereas the Campus is a place to experience the ecological transition and train young people who are not detached from the realities on the ground.

What do people learn here?

My religious congregation made this estate in Forge available for the project. But the Campus is non-denominational. We welcome students of all religious or spiritual convictions and strive to establish partnerships with various public institutions, especially universities.

Employees, students and volunteers of the Campus form a community dedicated to living in joyful simplicity. We learn by doing, like working on the ecological renovation of these old buildings. The first winter, my room was at 15°C! Since then, students have done some insulation work, we have obtained funding to change windows, etc. Things are gradually improving.

On the food side, we have chosen to eat vegetarian, local and seasonal food. We grow a permaculture vegetable garden, and neighboring farmers offer us their off-grade vegetables. It is a tasty food and less expensive in fossil fuels.

We are also thinking about low carbon mobility issues, which is all the more interesting because it is in this area that the yellow vests movement has been very active. The ecological aspects must be articulated with their social aspects. With the surrounding communities we are discussing the development of carpooling, electric bicycles, etc.

We are also starting a project on low-tech, low-carbon technologies to be deployed on the Campus. The people who come here are experimenting with a more ecological lifestyle, but one that is not punitive.

How can the experimentation carried out on the Campus change scale? The Campus’ approach is meant to be radical, not marginal. It is “radical” in the sense of “confronting problems at the roots”.

Our low-carbon experiments are a good textbook case for seeing what is feasible and thinking about changes of scale. It’s “non-marginal” because we are not in a bubble. The Campus is linked to the surrounding area — nearby towns, associations, farmers…We also work with the world of higher education and large companies, with the concern that those who come here feel welcome as they are, with their questions, their professional or personal constraints, and that the Campus encourages a slightly different way of asking questions. We don’t claim to have the answers to subjects that concern the entire planet: the climate emergency, the inconsistencies of our economic models, our public policies, corporate strategies, etc. But we can help to make the diagnosis and, without giving lessons, invite everyone to think differently, with others.

You have done a lot of work on ethical issues in large companies. What is your view on PACTE (the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation), which France adopted in 2019?

These are steps forward, but they are disappointing in light of what was discussed beforehand, especially on the definition of a company.

If we want to change things, we have to start by asking ourselves what a company is, and what it is for. It is a question of redefining the company as a collective project, financed by profit and compatible with general interest. We would move away from the definition of a business as a simple commercial company where people join together to make a profit, period. We need to change the way we conceive economic activity, positing that respecting planetary limits is not an option.

PACTE legislation puts forward companies with a mission, but every company should be required to be “mission-driven”! In addition, their performance obligations are quite low. So yes, there are things that are moving forward… but we are not there at all. The latest report from the High Council on Climate emphasizes that we are very far from the commitments that France has set itself.

In your opinion, is this “greenwashing” on the part of companies and certain politicians?

There is a lot of cynicism on the part of many public and private players. And unfortunately, in France, there is an incredible gap between what is being done and the declarations of intention, which recognize the environmental emergency or affirm that France wants to position itself as a pioneer actor. It’s dramatic, because it discredits the political word. It is also extremely unfair to the most vulnerable populations. A cultural change is necessary.

Of what kind?

We need to think differently. If the transition is perceived as an external constraint, a return to the Stone Age, an “Amish model,” as French President Emmanuel Macron said about the opposition to 5G, it is dramatic compared to the real issues. The fundamental question is to conceive, culturally, that these transformations are necessary, that efforts must be shared and that certain efforts must be increasingly taken on by those who can pay. This observation must go hand in hand with a change in the way we look at ecological transition, which is not a punitive change, but a way of moving forward in a happy and united manner. We need political leaders who bring about this change by offering security to those worst-off and making the rich pay. There has never been so much capital across the planet, and investments are not being made in the right direction at all. We must be very clear on the job destruction required in certain sectors. A lot of jobs can be created in the area of transition, but we have to put ourselves in the line of battle between public authorities and companies to accompany this evolution, so that it is not a double punishment for those who are already in difficulty. Maintaining employment is not a legitimate objective in terms of ecological transition. On the other hand, we must be concerned with ensuring quality conditions of life for all, now and in the future.

What does this imply in terms of social protection and universal income? What should we do about certain deadlocks linked to automation, to a digital economy that will not be the road to salvation? These issues must be addressed head-on. You bring strong proposals to the public debate: reforming capitalism, capping wages, abolishing mass aviation, etc. Are people shocked or even resistant to this because of the fact that you are a nun? Yes, I think so. I also think that being a nun helps to get messages across. When I started my thesis on the ethical responsibility of multinationals, the topic was enough to make certain leaders say: “It’s left-wing.” But it’s not. From the point of view of moral and political philosophy, it’s a question of analyzing the way things are going and identifying tensions.

Because I am a nun, my interlocutors understand that I do not have a political agenda, even though my analyses can have political consequences afterwards. They perceive the ethical approach and perhaps I awaken in some people an ethical concern, sometimes hidden in the name of pragmatism and professional commitment. And that, I think, is the meaning of religious life: to make a sign. To make a sign on the side of commitment. To make a sign with regard to transcendence, with the question of meaning, which can also be asked in a non-denominational way.

My commitment to religious life gives me a freedom that others don’t have, and which sometimes surprises people. I know that in my congregation I will be taken care of. Even though we take a vow of poverty, in many ways we are not poor. But if religious life offers freedom, it also demands responsibility. One should not be afraid to take a stand. Pope Francis is emblematic of this freedom of tone that helps one ask the right questions. It is not a question of giving lessons, but of being clear about our complicity with structural evil. Behind this strong criticism of our institutions, of dysfunctions and structural evil, there is the message that everyone can do things differently.

Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/the-catholic-nun-who-has-quietly-started-an-ecological-revolution/13736

**

Pope Francis, in his video message for the first International Day of Human Fraternity, has called for a world of mutual respect. The February 4 event was virtually hosted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, with the participation of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and other personalities.

The pope in his video message expressed gratitude to “sisters and brothers” who had contributed to the promotion of fraternity in spite of the challenges. The International Day of Human Fraternity is intimately linked with the historic signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together in 2019. Francis, in his message, lauded the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb for his collaboration in writing the document the two signed. The pope also expressed his gratitude to the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for his belief in the project, and Judge Abdel Salam for his active participation in its advancement.

“Thank you all for committing to fraternity,” Pope Francis said, “because today fraternity is the new frontier of humanity. Either we are brothers, or we destroy each other.”

Pope Francis pointed out that “today, there is no time for indifference” and “we cannot wash our hands” off the present situation with distance, disregard and contempt. We are either brothers and sisters, “or everything falls apart,” he said adding that this is the frontier on which we have to build — “the challenge of our century and the challenge of our times.”

Fraternity “means an outstretched hand. Fraternity means respect. Fraternity means listening with an open heart. Fraternity means firmness in one’s own convictions” because “there is no true fraternity if one’s convictions are negotiated”, the pope said.

He said that despite differences in cultures and traditions, we are brothers and sisters, “born of the same Father.”

Hence, fraternity must be built, not by negotiation, but through respect for our different cultures and traditions.

“It is the moment of listening. It is the moment of sincere acceptance. It is the moment of certainty that a world without brothers is a world of enemies,” the pope said. He said “we cannot say we are either brothers or not brothers,” stressing that “we are either brothers or enemies” because disregard is “a very subtle form of enmity.”

“It does not only take a war to make enemies, it is enough to ignore others,” the pope said, adding that it is time to stop the attitude of looking the other way and disregarding others as if they did not exist.

Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/fraternity-is-the-new-frontier-of-humanity-says-pope/13745

**

“This is the reason for our hope: that God never tires of waiting for us,” Francis said, adding “when we turn away, he comes looking for us; when we fall, he lifts us to our feet; when we return to him after losing our way, he waits for us with open arms”.Pope Francis invited consecrated men and women to look to the patience of God and the patience of Simeon as they consider their own lives.Patience, he said, is not simply about tolerating difficulties or showing grim determination in the face of hardship.”it’s not a sign of weakness, but the strength of spirit that enables us to ‘carry the burden’ of personal and community problems, to accept others as different from ourselves, to persevere in goodness when all seems lost, and to keep advancing even when overcome by fatigue and listlessness,” he said.”In our lives as consecrated men and women, it can happen that hope slowly fades as a result of unmet expectations. We have to be patient with ourselves and await in hope God’s own times and places, for he remains ever faithful to his promises.”It can happen that even as God patiently tills the soil of history and our own hearts, we show ourselves impatient and want to judge everything immediately. In this way, we lose hope,” he said.”Patience helps us to be merciful in the way we view ourselves, our communities and our world,” Pope Francis told religious.”We need patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”In this time of pandemic patience is sorely needed to move forward “offering the Lord our lives,” he said.The World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life was instituted in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2.The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.

Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/patience-is-not-a-sign-of-weakness-but-the-strength-of-spirit-pope-tells-religious/13738

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