From May 22-29, on the seventh anniversary of the Encyclical on ‘The Care of Creation,’ the Catholic Church is celebrating ‘Laudato Si’ Week. The theme for the 2022 edition is “Listening and Walking Together”: Are we doing enough to listen and respond to the cry of creation?
Doubt arises. While next May 24 marks the 7th anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on The Care of the Common Home, and the Catholic Church is preparing for a week of celebrations, it is estimated that in Italy, we have already reached Overshoot Day about ten days ago. That is, the day we have exhausted our share of the Earth’s regenerable resources by 2022. We are in good company, for goodness sake! Before us are most European countries and also the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates… In this context one wonders: what is there to celebrate? “Laudato Si’ should absolutely be celebrated!” Professor Luca Fiorani, professor of Foundations of Civil and Sustainable Economy at Sophia University Institute, responds with some decision. “Laudato Si’ should absolutely be celebrated because it fills a slow response of the Catholic Church. The Evangelical churches, as early as the 1970s had begun to address the care of the Common Home. Patriarch Demetrius I, as early as 1989, proclaimed Sept. 1 a “Day of Prayer for Creation.” Pope Francis, with Laudato Si’, humbly listened to experts in science, economics, politics, law, the Bishops’ Conferences around the world, non-Catholic Christians, believers and non-believers, and then launched a vision from which it is impossible to disregard today.”
The vision of which Professor Fiorani speaks can be summarized with a sentence in paragraph No. 49, where the pontiff clarifies, “We cannot help but recognize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice into discussions about the environment, to listen as much to the cry of the earth as to the cry of the poor.” Everything is connected, in short, in a set of relationships involving nature and humans. And this complex approach, the professor explains, still guides us on the road we want to travel, strengthening and keeping alive the more ambitious dream of the Paris Agreement. Many people say there is an underground connection, between the encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Paris Agreement, which is the most serious agreement we have to counteract climate change. Thanks to the action of Laudato Si’, we have managed to keep alive the dream of containing global warming to 1.5°C. Of course, scientific studies say that if we go on like this, the planet’s temperature will rise by 2.7°C by the end of the century. If we see the glass as half empty, we are a long way from the goal. But if we see it half full, we are not beyond that 3°C, which would be, according to climatologists, a real catastrophe.”
Here, unwilling to resign itself to catastrophic prospects, Laudato Si’ Week looks at the glass half full and invites the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics to listen and respond together to the cry of God’s creation. “But what can individuals do, if no real political will moves” asks the professor. “There is a very interesting study by the International Energy Agency that shows that in the path to carbon neutrality, decisions by the big guys are insufficient without support from the grassroots, with a change in lifestyles. On the other hand, lifestyle changes by individuals, without bold policy decisions, are not enough.”
This is why every citizen, every human being, holds the power to influence climate change with his or her choices. Sorting garbage, choosing a more sober lifestyle, intensifying reuse of objects, saving energy, can make a difference.
“Then, if you start demonstrating in the streets, as our young people did, if you start voting for people who are friendly to the environment, if you join initiatives like the one promoted by the Laudato Si’ Movement on fossil fuel divestment, that’s when you put pressure and the big-wigs, especially in politics, are forced to change course,” adds Professor Fiorani.
So, let us prepare to celebrate Laudato Si’ Week with more realistic awareness. May it be a chance to renew our commitment to really take care of people and the planet.
Luca Fiorani is also the author of “Happy Planet (a guide to the great issues of the environment).” A guide-some serious and some humorous, but always rigorous and up-to-date-to navigate the environmental crisis and its causes. Topics covered: Ecology, climate change, ozone hole, pollution, sustainable development, energy efficiency, renewable and non-renewable energy sources, circular economy, Paris Agreement, Agenda 2030, Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis, critical consumption, environmental education.
To purchase it, click HERE.