By Sr. Kate Midgley, SSC
On the 24 May the Vatican will invite the entire Catholic Church to embark on an audacious faith-filled, decade-long journey through the Laudato Si Action Platform. The Vatican hopes that as many of us as possible will join this journey together and that with every passing year the number of us on this journey will increase exponentially.
So why is the Vatican so concerned that we all take part in this journey?
Pope Francis, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and David Attenborough (to name a few household names) as well countless scientists, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens have all warned us that we need to take urgent action in order to protect our Earth from a sixth mass extinction and dangerous global overheating. Changing weather patterns could spiral out of control, making large parts of the earth uninhabitable and leading to hundreds of millions of climate refugees.
As Christians we believe that the whole Earth is a miracle of God’s creation and that it is held in every moment by God. This attitude of awe and wonder was evident in the title Pope Francis gave to his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’ (or, Praised be). The title recalls St. Francis of Assisi who, “just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he [would] burst into song” (LS no. 11).
The Pope, quoting St. Francis, spoke with great tenderness about the Earth: “Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us” (LS no. 1). The Pope shows us in Laudato Si’ that integral ecology is integral to our faith.
With these words ringing in our ears, six years after Laudato Si’ was first published, the Pope, through the Vatican Dicastery of Human Development, is inviting us to act now and embark on this journey through the Laudato Si Action Platform. Pope Francis has said, ‘let us dream’ and the Platform is a visible form of that dream.
You can watch an excellent twenty minute video on what the platform is all about, featuring Fr. Josh Kureethadam, the head of the ecology desk at the Dicastery.
The platform is inviting different sectors of the Church to embark on this journey toward sustainability and integral ecology. These include the following:
The Vatican hopes that members from each of these sectors will make public commitments to the seven Laudato Si’ goals:
The goal of mobilizing the entire Catholic Church is to create the “critical mass” needed for radical societal transformation. That is what we need in order to protect our planet for future generations. We know from history that radical social change starts from below where its Gandhi in India, Mandela in South Africa, or the Suffragettes across the world.
Everyone is needed for this journey, as Greta Thunberg has said: “somebody needs to do something and I am somebody.”
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? ….. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.” (LS no. 160)
To learn more about the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and its goals, please visit its website at www.LaudatoSi.org.
Sr. Kate Midgley is a Columban Sister and member of the GCCM UK Animators’ group. She is starting a Laudato Si parish community gardening group in East London. A version of this article was originally published in the summer 2021 edition of the Columban Vocation for Justice newsletter.
Copyright © 2021 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.