A Laudato si’ year for the post-COVID-19 world

Writing for La Croix International Nicolas Senèze reports on Pope Francis announcement of a “Special Anniversary Year” for his 2015 encyclical to galvanize a worldwide ecological conversion.                                                                                   
Vatican officials had hoped to celebrate the fifth  anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato si’ with great fanfare and numerous initiatives.  A conference called the “Economy of Francesco” was to be held in Assisi in March. That was supposed to be followed by a meeting of the Global Educational Alliance at the end of April. And then there were big plans for the recent “Laudato si’ Week” (May 19-24). 

Everything changed, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Italy and the Vatican to go into lockdown. But Pope Francis has seized this as an opportunity to mark the anniversary of the encyclical letter on ecology that Vatican officials are calling “prophetic”. The coronavirus crisis — from its ecological causes to its health and social consequences – seems to have already vindicated the warnings and concerns that are stated in the 2015 document.

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Hence the “Laudato si’ Special Anniversary Year” that Francis announced this past Sunday at the noontime recitation of the Regina Caeli. “I invite all people of good will to join in, to take care of our common home and our most fragile brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

An “ecological conversion in action”
“COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we begin to envision a post-COVID world, we need above all an integral approach,” says the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, pointing that “everything is connected”, as Francis says in the encyclical. A prayer for the year has already been published, and in June the Vatican will publish operational guidelines now being drawn up by all the dicasteries of the Roman Curia for a concrete implementation of Laudato si’. The Holy See has set up various pandemic reflection groups that aim to be part of an “ecological conversion in action”.

“The urgency of the situation calls for immediate responses”
The Global Educational Alliance gathering and the Assisi meeting on the economy are expected to be rescheduled for October. Another feature of the Laudato si’ anniversary year will be the Vatican’s participation at the Davos summit in January 2021 and the World Water Forum in March 2021. The latter is to be held in Dakar, Senegal. And the country’s president has invited the pope to attend. Additionally, a global meeting of world religious leaders is also proposed for the spring.

On a concrete level, a platform of initiatives will also be set up where families, dioceses, schools, universities, hospitals, businesses and religious congregations will commit themselves to integral ecology over a seven-year journey “towards total sustainability”. This will be based on seven ecological, social, spiritual and educational criteria. “The urgency of the situation calls for immediate, holistic and unified responses at all levels,” explains the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

It says it wants to create “a peoples’ movement from below, an alliance of all people of good will”.

Reproduced with permission from La Croix International