(Source: MJ/Robin Gomes, Vatican News)
It was on May 24, 2015, that Pope Francis signed his landmark encyclical, Laudato Si’: On the Care for Our Common Home. And this coming Sunday, the world will mark exactly 5 years of this popular document, which has been a point of reference not only for the Church and Christians but also for governments, politicians, world bodies, including the United Nations, as well as environmental groups and movements worldwide.
Laudato Si’ Week
Addressing his viewers and listeners during the midday Regina Caeli prayer on Sunday, May 17, Pope Francis announced the start of the Laudato Si’ Week across the world that will conclude on the anniversary day, Sunday, May 24.
“In these times of the pandemic, in which we are more aware of the importance of care for our common home,” he said, “I hope that all the common reflection and commitment may help to create and strengthen constructive attitudes for the care of creation.”
Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year
The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development that is promoting the week has also announced the celebration of a Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, which runs from May 24, 2020 to May 24, 2021.
Father Joshtrom Kureethadam is the Coordinator of the Sector on Ecology and Creation, which functions under the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Crises of “Our Common Home”
Presenting the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, the Salesian priest said that the context of this year is “the precarious state of ‘Our Common Home’, which Pope Francis speaks about in Laudato Si’”.
The Holy Father asks, “What kind of world do we want to leave those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”
The Indian priest pointed to the “tragic experiences of so many vulnerable communities around the world”. Children have been getting out onto the streets “to tell us that we cannot steal their future”.
With the advent of the Covid-19 emergency, the Indian priest said, the world came to realise how “interdependent and interconnected” humanity is, and the need for “solidarity in order to create a new world”.
“All these crises can be an opportunity, a moment of grace to begin anew and build a world together, responding to the invitation of Pope Francis”.
Thus, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has planned a slew of events and celebrations, starting with the Laudato Si’ Week.
Unfortunately, Father Kureethadam lamented the Covid-19 pandemic will force most of them online.
Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year program
The Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year will kick off on Sunday, May 24, with a special midday prayer across the world. The Salesian priest mentioned some of the initiatives his Sector on Ecology and Creation has scheduled during the anniversary year.
The “Season of Creation” will run from September 1 – October 4; the events “Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance” (15 October) and the “Economy of Francesco” meeting (21 November) have been postponed.
In 2021, the “World Economic Forum, Davos – Third Vatican Roundtable” has been scheduled from 26-29 January.
A gathering of religious leaders has been scheduled for early spring and World Water Day will be marked on March 22.
Towards the conclusion of the Anniversary Year, Father Kureethadam said there will be an international conference; a musical and the conferring of Laudato Si’ awards are also being readied.
The Indian priest also mentioned a few special projects that the Sector on Ecology and Creation is working on, such as a documentary film on Laudato Si’, “Laudato Si’ Living Chapels” and the “Laudato Si’ Institutes Network”.
In the Sahel, he said, they have already started the “Laudato Tree Initiative”, which Pope Francis spoke about Sunday May 10. There is also an interesting initiative called the “Plastic Bank” to fight plastic pollution, and a Bible Quiz.
It is an open-ended list, which will be updated and revised from time to time as the year progresses. Father Kureethadam invited people to make suggestions and proposals which will be welcome.
7-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform
The priest said that the conclusion of the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year will see the launch of a Laudato Si’ Action Platform that will simultaneously address 7 areas of interest for a period of 7 years.
These areas are families, dioceses, schools, universities, hospitals, businesses and religious orders.
They will be asked to make the 7-year journey in the spirit of Laudato Si’ to ultimately become Laudato Si’ dioceses or schools.
Fr. Kureethadam explained that the first batch of some 500 dioceses or schools will begin the journey in 2021. In the following year, 2022, another group of dioceses, schools will be asked to start a 7-year journey. So the number will grow exponentially from year to year over the coming decade.
From 2021 onwards, the Sector on Ecology and Creation also plans to confer 7 awards, such Outstanding Laudato Si’ Leader, Outstanding Laudato Si’ Local Animator and Outstanding Laudato Si’ Family.
Father Kureethadam thus invited all to “act together to save Our Common Home, to create a new birth, a new common home, to restore the eco-systems, to build up solidarity among ourselves”.
He urged that current crises, such as climate change and the Covid-19, be a “jubilee time for humanity, for all of God’s creatures” during the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year and the decade to come.