Laudato Si’ Week 2022: Church Action to Care for Creation

Activists in Glasgow during COP26

Next Sunday, May 22, Pope Francis will inaugurate Laudato Si’ Week 2022 during the Angelus prayer from St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The week, which runs from May 22-29, will mark the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the care of creation.

Pope Francis has invited Catholics – and anyone else interested – to join a seven-year journey to broaden the reach of his 2015 encyclical on the environment. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform is an initiative that offers parishes, schools, Catholic organizations, communities and families opportunities to learn and grow together towards sustainability and creation-centered spirituality.

It is ably supported by the Laudato Si’ Movement, which has come a long way since its founding the year the encyclical was published. I well remember a meeting at the Paris climate talks in December 2015, where the fledgling movement brought together some of the Catholic groups in Paris who were lobbying the UN climate meeting to act to to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

What an inspiring gathering it was, and the start of a galvanizing of Catholic support to care for God’s creation. Columban Missionaries and Westminster J&P have served alongside Caritas Internationalis, CIDSE, Trocaire, Jesuit European Social Centre, Ecojesuit, Franciscans International, Augustinian Recollects – Philippines and Christians United for the Earth. There were Franciscans from India, Australia, Brazil, Holland and Rome, and Jesuits from the Philippines, Belgium and Spain; also a JPIC Capuchin from the United States and Ecuador, and a priest from the Assumption. Ghanaian Archbishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye of Kumasi, President of Caritas Africa and Second Vice President of Caritas Internationalis, began with a prayer and thanked God for the opportunity to be at COP21 and asked for help from God “so that we develop our strategy to protect the Earth for future generations”.

Since then, the Ecumenical Season of Creation – September 1 to October 4 – has been taken up by Catholic networks, and Laudato Si’ Week is celebrated by Catholics around the world. Catholics had a very visible presence in the lobby of the UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow last November. Very effective use is made of social media and other programs, such as Laudato Si’ facilitators

The invitation to celebrate Laudato Si’ Week comes as India and Pakistan have experienced scorching temperatures and flooding unprecedented in Australia this year. Pope Francis has called for a “new ecological approach that can transform the way we inhabit the world, our ways of life, our relationship with the Earth’s resources and, in general, our way of looking at humanity and living life”.

Already more than 4,000 religious organizations and bodies – including Colombians, Jesuits and Salesian Sisters, the Pontifical Gregorian University and 80 Catholic colleges around the world, the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines and more than 1,000 families – have committed in the Laudato Si’ action platform. Planting trees, reducing energy use, divesting from fossil fuels, and educational gatherings are among the initiatives that will be celebrated around the world during Laudato Si’ Week.

International events, available online, include the opening of Laudato Si’ Week on May 22 by Pope Francis, a “No More Biodiversity Collapse” webinar on the morning of May 23, and a focus on “Fossil Fuels , violence and the climate crisis”. May 25. An all-day prayer event on May 29 will be themed “Resilience and Community Empowerment as part of our synodal journey.” In the Philippines, the Manila Cathedral will host a day-long program on May 24. The Jesuit Center for Ecology in Malawi runs a week-long program.

Here in Britain, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is holding a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral at 7pm on Monday May 23. Bishop Robert Byrne will celebrate Mass and Father Chris Hughes will deliver the homily on “Hearing the Cry of the Poor and of the Land”.

Ongoing initiatives in England and Wales include CAFOD’s Livesimply award and the “Guardians of Creation” project which has published guidelines to help Catholic dioceses measure a baseline carbon footprint with the aim of achieving ” net zero”.

CONNECTIONS

The full document can be viewed here: www.cbcew.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/11/Nov21-Carbon-Accounting.pdf

Livesimply Pricing – https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/LiveSimply-award

Laudato Si’ Week – www.laudatosiweek.org

Laudato Si’ Week Celebration Guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tZPl3m0NHV7EzfC8O19EjDdlntY1jEYh/view

NEXT MONDAY! – Dr. Vandana Shiva will be speaking at the Laudato Si’ week webinar entitled “No More Biodiversity Collapse”. Register at: http://laudatosiweek.org

Martha J. Finley