By Lisa Zengarini
The European Laudato Si’ Alliance has renewed its commitment to Laudato si', saying Pope Francis' encyclical on the care of our common home drives radical change and the path to a just future.
The move was the outcome of the fourth Laudato Si’ Reflection Day organized on 27 May by the alliance, known as ELSi’A.
The Catholic network includes COMECE – the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the EU; Caritas Europa, the Jesuit European Social Centre; CIDSE – International family of Catholic social justice organizations; the Global Catholic Climate Movement; and, Justice and Peace Europe. The event marked the 6th anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical.
“The Dream, the Plan, the Path”
Entitled “The Dream, the Plan, the Path”, the online event was attended by over 100 participants from various countries across the world.
The event focused on the importance of long-term thinking and on the role of the Church and local communities in Europe towards a better care of creation and on building on the long-lasting impacts of Laudato si'.
New path for humanity can be co-created
Welcoming the participants was Luxemburg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich S.J., President of COMECE and Honorary President of ELSi’A.
He spoke about the multifaceted crisis the world is going through and how change can be brought about, recalling that a new path for humanity can be co-created and that a "planetary community" that lives in harmony is possible.
Need for inter-generational solidarity
Speakers reiterated the need emphasized by Pope Francis for long-term thinking and inter-generational solidarity as opposed to short-termism, dominated by the tyranny of the present.
This vision of the future, they said, implies new sustainable economic models that allow to thrive in equilibrium by creating a circular, no waste economy, instead of one in perpetual growth leading to exhaustion of natural resources.
They also reflected on the importance of engaging both citizens and political leaders to make change happen.
Concrete initiatives to implement Laudato si' principles
The event furthermore offered an opportunity to learn about some concrete initiatives to implement the Laudato si' principles at a local level.
These initiatives include grassroot projects and awareness programs encouraging Catholic communities to engage in ecological practices and showing the connection between ecology and Catholic social teachings.
Ecological transition 'not at expense of the poor'
In the second part of the Reflection Day, presentations from the Church and the European Union perspectives helped to identify transcendent goals and areas of cooperation for the planet.
Fr. Augusto Zampini, Adjunct Secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, highlighted the dangers of the “globalisation of indifference”.
He reminded participants that, while policies must radically change, the much-needed transition should not be at the expense of the poor.
Realizing the dream of a just future
In the final remarks, Maria Nyman, Secretary General of Caritas Europa, one of the main partners in ELSi'A, stressed the importance of not being afraid of the changes that are needed, albeit radical.
She noted that the Church now is not alone on this path and that a long-term plan is needed, so that the “Dream” outlined in the Laudato si’ does not remain one that is merely utopian.