By Jim Fair
On Thursday, June 18, 2020, a Press Conference took place in the John Paul II Room of the Holy See Press Office, to present the Document entitled “On the Way for the Care of the Common Home, Five Years from the Encyclical Laudato Si’,” elaborated by the Inter-Dicasterial Table of the Holy See on integral ecology.
Intervening were H.E. Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary of Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; H.E. Monsignor Fernando Vergez Alzaga, L.C., Secretary-General of the Governorate of Vatican City State; H.E. Monsignor Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education (of the Institutes of Studies); The Reverend Monsignor Bruno Marie Duffe, Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development; Mister Aloysius John, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis; and Mister Tomas Insua, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
Following are other interventions from the conference and a video of the entire event with English commentary:
The Reverend Monsignor Bruno Marie Duffe, Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development
To introduce briefly the Document that has gathered us today, I shall draw your attention to its title, as it evokes the path that we are called to walk together in order to care for the earth and its people. I shall limit myself to three personal reflections.
- The first reflection places this publication in a particular context: that of a health and social crisis that amplifies the ecological and moral crisis highlighted by the Encyclical Laudato si’. In fact, we live the experience of fragility, in our bodies, in our relationships, in our care practices, in the way we perceive and live the economic and social development. This experience of vulnerability inevitably produces fear and anxiety for the future. The appeal of the Encyclical Laudato si’ to “listen to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” does not aim to expand fear, but to propose a path of conversion. We know that this path exists only thanks to those who walk along it. Today, Laudato si’ can bear the fruits of conversion only if witnesses continue to follow the path outlined in this Letter. “Witnesses” means “those who transmit”, “those who propose”, “those who decide and determine to act”. Who are these witnesses? They are the stakeholders of economic and political life; the local communities with their memories and hopes; churches; the young but also the elderly, because, as Pope Francis says in the Exhortation Christus vivit, for the young to dream of tomorrow’s world, we need the elderly to continue to dream of today’s world. We need to highlight practical ways in which to implement Laudato si’ The Document “Journeying towards care for our common home. Five years after Laudato si’ ” intends to contribute exactly to this pedagogy.
- The experience we live daily at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development shows that the project and construction of the Encyclical Laudato si’ proposes, in itself, an initiative. Firstly, let us consider the world in which we live – and in which some “survive”. Looking, listening, and being touched by what we live and by those with whom we live.
Looking and letting ourselves be touched by the earth that silently suffers and whose suffering is directly linked to human activity, as well as to the climate disruptions caused by this activity.
Meeting a human community wounded by growing inequalities and an increasingly profound conflict.
Contemplating the beauty and promise of what has been entrusted to us in the Father’s Creation and in Christ’s love.
Acting and deciding in favor of a different development that no longer defines itself as “more and more” and a series of “ill-considered initiatives” that consume all forms of life.
Educating through dialogue and the daily practices of sobriety. The presentation of some “good practices” implies awakening other educational and community initiatives. I am referring to the youth initiatives in Argentina (“Cuidadores de la casa común“) or Africa (with CYNESA).
Finally, celebrating, that is to remember the promise embedded in each one of us with our talents and experiences and to offer what we have shared: our sorrows and the simple, but fierce joy of solidarity.
To follow this path, we are called to reconsider the instances of human activity: the relationship with the elements (water, earth and the oceans), biodiversity, work, economy, finance, the life of local communities and the planet, the local and the global. It is a matter of attempting an integral development inspired by integral ecology: a new harmony with the earth, the others, and oneself. This path is, in fact, a path for life and the future of life, engaging every person and every community and “humanity as a whole” (Paul VI, Popolorum Progressio, 1967). How to live what we proclaim, when we speak of dignity, shared responsibility, the common good, and the priority for the poor (these principles make up the “Social Doctrine of the Church”).
- The introduction to the Document “Journeying towards care for our common home” invites us to bear in mind the prayer pronounced by Pope Francis on March 27, 2020, to implore the end of the pandemic: “It is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives.”
Clearly, this guide does not dispense from reading the Encyclical Laudato si’ that remains the source of inspiration and initiative.
Laudato si’ is a path for the stakeholders of the future. It is important to support our companions along the journey: this is the meaning of this document, which is intended as a manifest catechesis of the conversion to an integral ecology.
[00790-EN.01] [Original text: Spanish]
Aloysius John, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis
As a member of the Interdicasterial Table on Integral Ecology, Caritas Internationalis would like to thank very sincerely the Secretariat of State for the continuous collaboration. Our confederation is part of this Table since it was established in 2015 by decision of Pope Francis to enhance our dialogue on the issues addressed by Laudato si’ and make proposals to address the many problems causing our Common Home and the poor to “cry”. Contributing to the reflection included in this document was for us an important opportunity to bring the voice of local communities and the Caritas experience into the joint endeavor of realizing Integral Ecology as promoted by Laudato si’.
As you can see in the document we are presenting today, a number of programs of Caritas organizations are mentioned among the good practices. Examples are: the commitment of Caritas India and Caritas Asia aimed at providing new knowledge and skills among small-scale farmers in order to avoid excessive use of fertilizers; the great work of Caritas Burkina Faso to ensure access to drinkable water for the locals. And finally the Campaign “One human family, food for all”, carried out by our confederation from 2013 to 2015 and supported by the Holy Father, who had at its center the human right to food and its full realization for all members of the human family.
All of these represent responses of the local Churches to this need for ecological conversion for the safeguarding of our Common Home to which the Holy Father has invited us through Laudato si’.
Today, in this time of crisis, the prophecy of Laudato si’ proves true, pointing at Integral Ecology as the lens through which we are called to understand and respond to today’s reality.
All the 162 Caritas organizations are responding to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic: they have been providing humanitarian relief to address the needs of the poor who have been worst hit by the crisis, especially with food aid, shelter, healthcare. However, we are not just facing yet another emergency: this crisis is a systemic crisis that has challenged our political and economic systems, and deeply changed our societal behaviors. The effects of this pandemic are bringing backward years of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. There has been a dramatic increase in poverty and at the same time a serious deterioration in the conditions of those who already before the pandemic were among the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, this pandemic is still unfolding, especially in the Global South, with unpredictable consequences.
Pope Francis calls us to see this time of trial as “a time of choice” where we are called to use our best judgement and discernment to renew our systems towards greater justice and for human dignity. Caritas embraces this opportunity of renewal, calling for a response to this crisis that is likewise systemic, i.e. tackling the root causes not just the symptoms, being cross-sectoral and deeply transformative. Such a response does not only belong to governments, but also to society and in particular to grass-root communities, who must be empowered to make informed and responsible choices to set a new direction. Laudato si’ shows us this direction, with its approach to development based on Integral Ecology, whereby everything is interconnected.
Today, here, Caritas wants to give voice to the cry of the local communities with whom Caritas works every day in all countries in the world. Communities that are the first victims of the failure to safeguard our common home and that today are asking us for targeted and immediate actions, especially concerning food security, access to water, and ecosystem preservation.
Food security: Accelerate the realization of the human right to adequate food and put it at the foundation of the entire cycle of producing, distributing, and consuming food. Contribute to world food security by investing in small-scale food systems, primarily in the fields of agroecology, family farming, and fishing, with special attention for the environment, employment and dignity at work, and legality.
Water: Access to water must be enhanced and expanded for all, by making potable water available for hygiene, food preparation, domestic use, agriculture etc. Local communities must be made protagonists and responsible for their water self-sufficiency, by strengthening their capacity to assess their needs and adopt appropriate management and monitoring systems, to store water and maintain water pipelines and services.
Ecosystems: The cause-effect relationship between deforestation, tropical ecosystem degradation, and the outbreak of COVID-19 is now well-understood. This pandemic situates itself in the context of a global biodiversity and climate crisis. We must promote sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns that respect ecosystems and the limitation of natural resources, that contrast exploitation and waste both at individual and collective level. In this regard, we call for the effective protection of traditional and indigenous peoples, both for their inner human rights and vast knowledge on preserving biodiversity, against the abusive exploitation of their territories and destruction of their habitats.
After COVID-19 nothing will be the same. As Pope Francis said, it is time to build a new future and this new future must be built in the light of Laudato si’. It is time for everyone, governments, and civil societies, to make that conversion effort to which the Holy Father exhorts us in this prophetic encyclical.
[00787-EN.01] [Original text: English]
Tomas Insua, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement
It’s such a joy to participate in the presentation of this document. Laudato si’ ultimately, was a call to action. It was not a nice reflection to be put on a bookshelf, but instead, it was a call to “care” (a verb!) for our common home, as the subtitle indicates. It’s really remarkable that it has a verb in the subtitle, quite uncommon for an encyclical.
After the very special “Kairos” of 2015, the year in which the encyclical arrived in midst of humanity’s historic process leading towards the Paris Climate Agreement, it is very timely to take stock of the Laudato si’ action that has been sparked so far. Laudato si’ is renewing the Church. As this new publication reveals, it’s absolutely amazing to see how the Church is being energized and revitalized by this encyclical. As St John Paul II said (and Laudato si’ reinforced), the Church is called to undergo a deep “ecological conversion”, a change of heart that deepens our communion with our Creator and all Creation, in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi.
The document compiles so many great stories from all corners of the globe, from all sectors of the Church. We are very honored that a few of those stories that are featured are from GCCM and its members, which is a young movement founded in 2015 on the eve of the encyclical release. A direct fruit of Laudato si’ (even if we didn’t know its name back then). Starting as a small online network of Catholic organizations and leaders from all continents, founded during the Pope’s visit to the Philippines, it has grown into a global movement that brings together a diverse group of over 700 Catholic organizations (religious orders, lay movements, youth groups, Caritas agencies, diocesan offices, etc) and thousands of Laudato si’ Animators who lead parishes, schools, and other communities to “Live Laudato si’ ”.
It’s interesting to note the very active participation from the laity in general, and young people in particular, to help the Church live the Laudato si’ message. It speaks about the potential of this encyclical to revitalize the Church and boost the new evangelization. And most importantly, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. This new publication compiles some of the wonderful fruits from the first 5 years of Laudato si’, but I’m sure that the fruits from the subsequent 5 years will be even more impressive.
The LS Year that was recently proclaimed by Pope Francis has already started bearing abundant fruit that will boost even more the implementation of Laudato si’ The LS Year started with a special celebration of the LS Week last month to mark the 5th anniversary, in which we were blessed to partner with the DSSUI and many other Catholic organizations to host a huge online celebration with marvelous fruits. And now we are preparing for an even bigger celebration of the Season of Creation, the annual initiative from Sept 1st to Oct 4th together with other Christian churches, which is gaining even more momentum year over year (as this interdicasterial text highlighted) and is “the next big milestone” of the LS Year.
Huge gratitude to the distinguished leaders from the Holy See for your leadership to advance the implementation of Laudato si’, and we look forward to the next 5 years of action to bring Laudato si’ to life. Thank you.
[00791-EN.01] [Original text: English]
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