A path for the care of the common home, 5 years after Laudato si'.

A propitious time to become aware of the fate of creation and the responsibility of each person's contribution. Five years after the Laudato si', a book explores good practices and concrete actions for an integral ecology.

Giovanni Tridente-July 7, 2020-Reading time: 5 minutes

Five years after the Laudato si', various dicasteries of the Roman Curia, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, from the Dicastery for Communication to various Pontifical Councils, the Synod of Bishops, various Episcopal Conferences and numerous Nunciatures have produced a voluminous book titled On the road to care for the common home. 

Re-proposing the richness of the encyclical

The purpose of the publication, which is over 220 pages long, is to re-propose the richness of the contents of the social encyclical that Pope Francesco delivered to the Church on May 24, 2015, offering guidance on its reading, especially in relation to some operational aspects, in addition to favoring collaboration between dicasteries of the Roman Curia and Catholic institutions, to underline the synergies in the dissemination and implementation of the same encyclical.

More specifically, the authors write, it is intended to "to reiterate the centrality of the dimension of integral ecology in the life of all of us and to help find concrete ways to live it and put it into practice starting from one's own sensitivity, but above all starting from the demands of caring for our common home and those who live in it, especially if they are in the most difficult and vulnerable situations.".

It has been a rather long work, begun in 2018 at the wish of Pope Francis, which has seen a succession of different drafts, while maintaining a certain simplicity and a synthetic character, privileging a more action-oriented dimension, foreseeing a whole series of situations in which a true integral ecology can be favored, both nationally and internationally.

Global vision

The recent health emergency linked to the Covid-19 pandemic has made the need to intervene in this area with a global vision even clearer, given that "everything in the world is intimately connected."as the Holy Father writes in Laudato si'. A propitious time to make concrete and responsible decisions in any field, from education to culture, from politics to science and economy. 

The backbone of the volume is essentially a detailed answer to the question "what is to be done?" (for a truly ecological conversion), and it is no coincidence that the first to set an example was Vatican City, which for years has undertaken numerous initiatives to protect and respect the environment, from the production of electricity without pollutant emissions (photovoltaic panels) to new lighting systems that allow energy savings of up to 80 %, from the total elimination of the use of pesticides in gardens to the planting of hundreds of new trees with tall trunks, from the use of electric vehicles to a significant percentage of differentiated waste collection. Some of this information is included at the end of the volume.

The Holy See will also adhere to the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, an instrument aimed at responding to both the problem of the so-called "ozone hole" and the phenomenon of climate change, as announced to journalists by Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State.

Offering expertise

The focus of the book is indicated in the introduction, where it is explained that "The Church does not have a pre-established catalog of solutions to offer, much less to impose. Rather, she offers her experience over the centuries and in different geographical contexts, as well as a corpus of social teachings, contents and principles elaborated over time, and a method for reflecting together on such solutions: dialogue". 

All of this "combining diverse and complementary perspectives: the richness of faith and spiritual tradition, the seriousness of scientific research work, militancy and concrete commitment to achieve a just and sustainable integral human development".

Practical orientation

The volume is subdivided into two major chapters with twelve specific areas each, for which "both good practices and courses of action" are mentioned. 

The first chapter deals with spiritual conversion and education (human life, family and youth, schools, universities, continuing and informal education, catechesis, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, communication), while the second focuses on integral human development in the perspective of integral ecology (food, water, energy, ecosystems, seas and oceans, circular economy, work, finance, urbanization, institutions and justice, health and climate).

The authors consider it important to specify that the proposals they offer must be understood in an integral and integrated manner, because if some aspects are favored over others, a lasting solution to the problems will be difficult to achieve. 

They must also be understood according to a principle of subsidiarityIn the sense that in each case it will be assessed whether they concern the individual person, the family, the community, intermediate bodies or the State and supranational bodies. Finally, all of them retain an important educational component, involving above all parents, the school system in general, religious institutions, the world of culture and the world of communication.

A Special Year

The dissemination of this comprehensive book is part of the initiatives of the Special Year dedicated to Laudato si'which Pope Francis announced at the end of the Regina Coeli on May 24, the anniversary of the encyclical's publication, and which is coordinated by the Dicastery for Service to Integral Human Development, headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson.

A first hint of this "Jubilee of the Earth," as it has been defined, took place from May 16-24 with the "Laudato si' Week," a series of initiatives, also spiritual, that have involved Catholics in reflecting on how we can build a more just and sustainable future. Pope Francis' general audience that week was also dedicated to the "mystery of creation".

This special year will include the "Time for Creation" initiative (September 1 - October 4, 2020), a celebration of prayer and action involving Christians of all confessions worldwide, joined by Catholics since 2015 at the urging of the Holy Father; the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which is celebrated on September 1; the event, postponed by Covid-19, Global Compact Education (October 15, 2020), convened by Pope Francis and addressed to representatives of the major religions, representatives of international organizations and of the various humanitarian, academic, economic, political and cultural institutions that will sign this global educational pact; the meeting, also postponed, The economy of Francesco (November 21, 2020), which will bring together economists and entrepreneurs in Assisi, the land of St. Francis, to make a pact in favor of a more just, fraternal and sustainable economy, and to give a new protagonism to those who are excluded today.

Objectives Laudato si'

The Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development has also launched a platform linked to groups and institutions which during the special anniversary of Laudato si' publicly commit to begin a 7-year journey towards total sustainability in the perspective of integral ecology; this will involve families, dioceses, schools, universities, hospitals, businesses and factories, and religious orders.

These groups will be asked to endorse the OLSs (Objectives of the Laudato si'), mainly as a response to the "cry of the Earth". (clean renewable energy), to the "cry of the poor". (defense of human life from conception to death and of all forms of life), adopting a "green economy" (sustainable production, ethical investments) and a "simple lifestyle" (consumption sobriety and increased use of public transportation), implementing a "ecological instruction" (raising awareness and stimulating for full action), a "ecological spirituality". (ecological approaches in catechesis, prayer, formation) and by emphasizing the "community involvement and active participation" (awareness campaigns, etc.)

Finally, the DSDHI has established an annual Award Laudato si'to encourage and promote individual and community initiatives in favor of the care of the common home, aimed at leaders, families, schools, faith communities, for the best initiative and the best academic or artistic production.

"All the Christian faithful, all members of the human family can contribute to weaving together, like a subtle but unique and indispensable thread, the network of life that embraces everyone".Pope Francis wrote in his Message for World Creation Day last year. "Let us feel involved and responsible in caring for creation through prayer and commitment. May God, 'lover of life' (Wis 11:26), give us the courage to do good without waiting for others to begin, without waiting until it is too late.".

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