The Global Catholic Climate Movement has hailed a new Vatican Laudato si’ ‘user’s guide’ as “unprecedented”, “remarkable” and “prophetic”.

Global Catholic Climate Movement press release on the new Vatican document “Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: Five Years After Laudato Si’”

(Source: Global Catholic Climate Movement)

Today, the Vatican issued its first-ever set of comprehensive environmental guidelines

The guidelines come in an unprecedented document that is the fruit of a collaboration across all Vatican departments.

These first-ever guidelines are intended to be operational, and suggest concrete ways for the Church to implement Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the care of our common home. 

The document, titled “Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: Five Years After Laudato Si’,” was released on the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’.

The document summarizes five years of action on Laudato Si’ and establishes a vision for coordinated, ambitious action in the years ahead. 

The comprehensive guidelines range from participation in an annual season for ecological action, called the Season of Creation, all the way to the endorsement of the fossil fuel divestment campaign to boycott fossil fuel companies. 

The guidelines frame investing in fossil fuels as an ethical choice, on par with other significant ethical choices.

The guidelines suggest that Catholic institutions’ ethical commitments should lead to “avoiding supporting companies that harm human or social ecology (for example, abortion and weapons) and environmental ecology (for example, fossil fuels).” 

This is the first-ever endorsement of the fossil fuel divestment campaign to come from the Vatican as a whole.

It comes on the heels of the largest-ever announcement of divestment by faith institutions. In May 2020, 42 institutions in 14 countries announced their commitment to drop fossil fuels.

To date, faith communities have delivered the single greatest number of commitments in the global divestment movement, with nearly 400 commitments in the global total of over 1,200. 

This document, which will lead the global Church for years to come, also asks Catholic institutions to take action during the Season of Creation, an annual celebration of prayer and action for our common home.

The Vatican suggests that participation in this annual initiative will help “the faithful understand and integrate care of creation as an essential part of our Christian vocation.”

The Season of Creation, which begins in September, is celebrated by thousands of Christians on six continents each year. 

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican’s release of these first-ever guidelines signals its intention to address social and environmental challenges holistically.

The statement indicates that “today’s major challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the other environmental, human, socio-economic challenges… will be destined to change the societies in which we live,” and that “we are called to take care of each other” both in our immediate needs and in the underlying need to address air pollution, climate change, and other environmental harms.

Advocates note that this document gives impetus to the “healthy recovery” plans now being discussed in legislatures. 

This document is the latest action on the environment from Pope Francis and the Vatican, which has recognized the urgency of the need to protect our common home. The 12 months from May 2020, the fifth anniversary of the signing of Laudato Si’, are the Vatican’s “Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year”, prompting dramatically increased activity across the Church. Last year, the Amazon Synod Final Document embraced divestment from fossil fuels and Pope Francis issued the first-ever statement on the Season of Creation. 

A number of good practices were noted in the document, including Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Laudato Si’ Animators program. The online training program has trained and certified thousands of local leaders in more than 100 countries, helping them become champions for Catholic action to protect our common home. 

The document also noted the Global Catholic Climate Movement initiatives Laudato Si’ Retreats, Laudato Si’ Circles, and Laudato Si’ Generation

Tomás Insua, executive director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, said:

“It is a very important milestone that the Vatican has issued the first-ever operational guidelines for the Catholic Church to implement the principles of the Pope’s Laudato Si’ encyclical.

“The guidelines’ level of detail is remarkable and prophetic, ranging from fossil fuel divestment to pastoral activities such as the Season of Creation to be celebrated in parishes and local communities.

“We hope that this new document will accelerate even more the commitment of the Catholic community to care for our common home, particularly in the light of the Laudato Si’ Year that Pope Francis proclaimed recently.”

More on Novena on the Church’s care for our common home:

In new document on integral ecology, Vatican calls for “new model of development” that links fights against climate change, poverty

“We have to stop our ecological spiral of death”: faith groups from 14 countries announce divestment from fossil fuels

“Solidarity to create a new world”: Vatican invites planet to 7-year ‘Laudato si” “action platform”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.