Laudato Si’ Week, celebrated earlier this year (16-24 May), marked the end of the special fifth anniversary year of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si'. As part of the Week, Pope Francis launched the Vatican's Laudato Si' Action Platform, to further encourage Catholics in the next step of the journey to better care for our earthly home.
In 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, a hope-filled vision that inspires millions of people worldwide. In it, the Pope invites us to reflect on our communion with all of God’s creation, which is in urgent need of healing. An underlying theme of the encyclical is that everything is connected, a statement that has its origins in Scripture and the earliest teachings of the Church. In Catholic Social Teaching, the principles of solidarity and the common good remind us that in living a faith-filled life, we are called to act in ways that help build a better society for all. Pope Francis says: ‘Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.’ (Laudato Si’, §91)
In his message for the launch of the Laudato Si' Action Platform, Pope Francis said, ‘We have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all.
From God's hands, we have received a garden; we cannot leave a desert to our children. We need a new ecological approach that can transform our way of dwelling in the world, our styles of life, our relationship with the resources of the Earth and, in general, our way of looking at humanity and of living life.’
The Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development states: ‘The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a unique collaboration between the Vatican, an international coalition of Catholic organizations, and “all men and women of good will.”’ (LS, §3). It invites Catholic families, parishes, schools, hospitals, businesses, religious orders and organisations on a seven-year journey to discern and implement their response to the vision of Laudato Si’. In announcing the platform, Pope Francis said, ‘There is hope,’ by working together we will ‘be able to create the future we want, a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world.’
Seven goals are offered to guide this process:
Following the launch of the Laudato Si Action Platform, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service said the Church in Australia is well placed to engage with the Laudato Si’ plan.
'The Bishops of Australia have committed to being part of this seven-year journey, and we want to ensure that our people come with us. We in Australia, are well aware of the impacts of a climate that is changing, including through fires, droughts and floods. We also understand that the fate of our planet and the fate of our people are intimately connected.’
In line with this commitment, the theme of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Social Justice Statement 2021-2022 is Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor. Around the world, disadvantaged communities including the poor, women, children, Indigenous peoples and migrants and refugees bear the worst brunt of environmental devastation and contribute least to its causes. Within Australia, Torres Strait Islanders are already affected by rising seas, salinisation of freshwater, depleted food sources and damage to Traditional Lands they have cared for over millennia. Scientists warn in the coming decades that their lands will be uninhabitable. The unprecedented Australian bushfires of 2019/2020 are also tangible evidence that we are experiencing the impacts of climate change in the here and now.
In relation to the turmoils of our current times, Columban Missionary Fr Charles Rue in his resource, Prayers of Hope in Times of Trouble for Season of Creation (Year B), says, ‘Doubts flood minds when signs of joy are not obvious, but Pope Francis urges us to turn to Christ in our troubles and dream new things.’ He also says, ‘Every gift of life on Earth displays God's faithful presence, shedding light on our doubts, nourishing and strengthening us.’ During Laudato Si’ Week 2021, Columban Missionaries, who live and work alongside poor communities worldwide, launched their Jubilee for the Earth podcast and mini-series and study guide. This resource highlights the beauty of Earth's biodiversity (the variety of life on Earth) and the threat it faces. It can be used by individuals and groups.
During Laudato Si’ Week, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, an organisation endorsed by the Holy See, released the “Catholic Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition which will be delivered to world leaders attending two important United Nations (UN) Conventions in 2021, to set new ambitions to protect creation. These conventions are the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) from 11-24 October and the 26th
UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) on 1-12 November. Individuals and groups are invited to sign the petition to raise our voices to support safe and healthy communities and protect the most vulnerable.
About the Laudato Si’ Animators Melbourne Group
The Laudato Si’ Animators Melbourne Group is a network of people who have been meeting since 2018 to promote the Catholic Church’s social teaching on care for God’s creation within the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Our members are drawn from backgrounds in ecological formation, spirituality, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, peace and justice, environmental sustainability in education and healthcare, formation with youth, parish, and mission work. We work collaboratively within Church networks to contribute collectively to God’s mission.
The group welcomes new members to join this important work. For further information please contact Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM on email@example.com.
Melbourne Catholic05 August 2021