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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

442 "to create the future we want: a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world."

Day 442 Tuesday June 1st, 2021

"To create the future we want: A more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world."

Francis launches a program to heal the world and its people

The Vatican's long-awaited program for putting Pope Francis' ecological encyclical into action throughout the church debuted Tuesday, with the pope inviting all Catholics on a journey

"To create the future we want: A more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world."

At a May 25 press conference, The Vatican introduced the Laudato si' Action Platform. This is an ambitious churchwide initiative outlines seven categories of sustainability goals in the spirit of Francis' 2015 encyclical, "Laudato si', on Care for Our Common Home," which emphasizes integral ecology. Seven sectors of the church are asked to achieve those goals within a seven-year timeframe. The goals include:

  1. Adopting renewable energy;

  2. Achieving carbon neutrality;

  3. Defending all life;

  4. Solidarity with Indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups;

  5. Adopting simpler lifestyles;

  6. Fostering ecological education and spirituality;

  7. Advocating for sustainable development; Following ethical investment guidelines, including divestment from fossil fuels and other industries that harm the planet.

The platform includes goals for families, parishes and dioceses, schools and universities, businesses and farms, religious congregations, and hospitals and other health care facilities. The action platform was first previewed in May 2020, at the start of the Laudato si' Anniversary Year that the Vatican declared to raise attention and ambition around the encyclical. A full rollout is planned at the conclusion of the annual Season of Creation, on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Until then, church institutions can register to join the platform on its website,

The site includes additional information about the action platform, the Laudato si' goals, and stories of how Catholics are already taking action to protect creation. It eventually will house a library of resources to help communities during their own seven-year processes.

In a video message, Francis said the Earth "has suffered from wounds that we cause due to a predatory attitude" and irresponsible use of natural resources. "These wounds manifest themselves dramatically in an unprecedented ecological crisis," and have been further highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We therefore need a new ecological approach, which transforms our way of living in the world, our lifestyles, our relationship with the Earth's resources and, in general, the way we understand people and the way they live their lives," Francis said."

I would therefore like to invite everyone to undertake this journey together," he said, referring to the action platform and adding that only by working together "will we be able to create the future we want: a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world." "There is hope," Francis added.

"We can all collaborate, each with their own culture and experience, each with their own initiatives and abilities, so that our mother Earth returns to its original beauty and creation again shines according to God's plan." "Now more than ever, it's time to act, to do something concrete," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which led the formation of the action platform.

In mid-May, speculation that Francis might attend the Glasgow summit grew after John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy on climate, met with the pope at the Vatican and was later overheard on a video telling his staff he believed Francis would attend — an act the former secretary of state said "will have a profound impact." At the May 25 press conference, Turkson said he could not confirm that Francis would join a Vatican delegation at COP 26, but that "the request has been made and addressed to him. "He added there have been discussions of Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians known as the "Green Patriarch," attending the climate summit together.

"We are hoping and we are keeping our fingers crossed," Turkson said. While popes have regularly sent messages to the U.N. climate summits, none has ever attended in person. This year's meeting will be the first in two years, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is seen as critical, as nations are to present their new pledges aimed at meeting the Paris Agreement emissions-reduction target. At the May 25 press conference, Nigel Topping, a high-level climate official for the United Kingdom, which is hosting COP 26, said church leadership on climate "has been fundamental" to progress made so far. He applauded the Laudato si' Action Platform, which he said "is about much more than building a zero-carbon economy. It's also about building a fairer, healthier and more resilient economy where we transition away from a singular focus on profit and growth at all costs to a society and an economy where people and planet thrive.

Organizers of the Laudato si' Action Platform also hope it will spur greater ambition among the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and tens of thousands of church institutions to respond to the encyclical's message of living in ways that better preserve nature and communities. Creators of the action platform would like to see the number of participating institutions double each year.

Salesian Fr. Joshtrom Kureethadam, head of the dicastery's ecology and creation sector, said sociologists believe it takes just 3.5% of a group to reach the critical mass necessary to create lasting change. "That's what Mahatma Gandhi did, that's what Nelson Mandela did, and we hope under the leadership of Pope Francis, within a few years in this critical decade, we can reach the critical mass," he said.

People all over the world are looking for hope, and the Laudato si' Platform for Action provides real hope.

Brian Roewe is NCR environment correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter at @brianroewe.This article first appeared in EarthBeat

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