Paul Samasumo - Vatican City
Pope Francis has always said that Laudato sì is not only an encyclical on ecology.
“I think it is important to highlight the fact that Pope Francis himself says that Laudato si is also a social encyclical. To this effect, he has pleaded for an integral ecology calling upon us all to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth,” Monsignor Cibambo told Vatican News this week.
It was on 24 May 2015 that Pope Francis signed his landmark encyclical, “‘Laudato si’: On the Care for Our Common Home.” The Church has, this week, been marking the milestone with various activities across the world.
Everything is interconnected
“The letter of Pope Francis showed how everything is interconnected and how we must act as stewards, not as owners. We are stewards; we are instruments of God who should care for his creation. If anything, COVID-19 has given us a clear indication of the vulnerability and fragility of modern life and the modern world,” said Monsignor Cibambo who originally hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The beauty of Laudato sì is its inherent interconnectedness, says Monsignor Cibambo.
“With Laudato sì, Pope Francis raised a prophetic voice that challenged all of humanity on the state of our common home, the Earth. The key question is, in what state do we want to leave our common home, as a heritage for our children and for the future generation?”
COVID-19 and social impact: Africa quickly succumbs
“Our reports show that although cases of COVID-19 are still relatively low in Africa as a whole -they are unfortunately rising! COVID-19 is already having a devastating effect on Africa’ social fabric. Paradoxically, the impact of COVID-19 is being felt the most in Africa. Africa is the worst affected of all continents in terms of effects. There are right now as we speak food shortages, due to the lockdowns that many governments have undertaken. Thousands have lost jobs, small businesses destroyed. The diversity of pre-existing disasters such as floods, drought, locust invasion, poor harvest are real and constitute a serious challenge. Yes, the situation is not only true of Africa, countries in the Middle East, Latin America and in Asia are also severely affected by COVID-19. Nonetheless, our assessment shows that Africa is the worst affected,” explained Monsignor Cibambo.
Pope Francis’ COVID-19 rapid response commission
“Remember that on several occasions, Pope Francis has compared the Church and its socio-pastoral structures to that of a field hospital in times of war. The first mission of a field hospital, says Pope Francis, is to heal those that are wounded and to save lives. The field hospital does what is required without delay. The Pope once said, when you have a wounded person in front of you, you do not start by checking their Cholesterol. You move quickly to save their life. The rest you can do later. Similarly, we knew from the beginning that COVID-19 was more than a health issue. Yes, the priority is to provide health care services to prevent and control contagion. But as Caritas Internationalis, we have also been considering the need to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, called upon the Holy See’s Dicastery of Integral Human Development to create a commission meant to bring about rapid support to local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic all over the world. Caritas Internationalis was asked to be part of the commission because we are the development and humanitarian arm of the Church. We have since created a COVID-19 Response Fund. Through this fund, we are supporting various local initiatives. It is just that the needs at the moment are overwhelming,” said the Caritas Internationalis Ecclesiastical Assistant
5th anniversary of Laudato sì: A Kairos moment
Returning to the Laudato sì anniversary, Monsignor Cibambo said, “This fifth anniversary is a Kairos moment of reflection and change. It is important to have some reflections in our parishes, in our schools and at places of work. The reflections should lead us to personal ecological conversion. We should all take the time to reflect personally on Laudato sì’ key messages. As part of the Laudato sì week of reflection and celebration, we, at Caritas, have collected many country testimonies of best practices on Laudato sì happening across the world. It is simply amazing to see the good things happening out there because of this one encyclical” he said.