COP27: Laudato si' webinar to encourage Church’s action on climate crisis
By Edoardo Giribaldi
“To join our voices in the footsteps of Pope Francis’ words.” This is the mission of the European Laudato si' Alliance (ELSiA) and the webinar organized to discuss the part that the Catholic community can play in the climate emergency.
ELSiA is an organization that fosters a concept of ecological justice firmly linked to the teachings of the Church.
“Our work is based on three fundamental pillars,” explained Laura Morosini, Director of Programs in Europe at Laudato si’ movement, “eco-spirituality, eco-practice, and eco-advocacy.”
The event was moderated by climate change journalist Lou Del Bello, who dialogued with Fr. Eduardo Agosta Scarel, Laudato Si’ Movement Senior Advisor, and Fr. Charles Chilufya, Director of the association Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa.
Role of the Church in climate crisis
Fr. Scarel, speaking from Sharm el-Sheik Cop27’s media area, began by noting the active position that the Vatican acquired in the climate crisis discussion at the outset of this conference.
“For years the Vatican had been an observer state, with the only duty to provide moral guidance and indications after the final resolutions were signed,” said Fr. Scarel.
Following Pope Francis’ endorsement of the 2015 Paris Agreement related to the environmental crisis, the Vatican has officially become part of the global debate.
Time for action
Fr. Chilufya stressed the importance of "emphasizing the cry of the poor," especially those from developing countries.
Speaking from Nairobi, Kenya, the director of Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa brought to the table the example of many African populations battered by climatic catastrophes, such as floods, cyclones, and heatwaves.
He also reminded the Pope’s words, in his encyclical Fratelli tutti, highlighting the responsibilities of the modern society towards developing countries, often damaged by the excessive process of industrialization.
“It’s also an ethical issue,” added Fr. Chilufya, “that makes us wonder, how can we all live well?”
Nurturing faith and hope
The discussion went on to illustrate the concrete actions the Church has to embark on in recent years.
“As religious leaders and faithful people,” said Fr. Chilufya, “we must encourage hope, in the awareness that God gave us immense power to change things.”
Catholics should think, invent, and try, he urged. “At the beginning of the pandemic, Pope Francis called us to imagine the future and how we could make things different. That’s what we have to do, mobilizing people and keeping up their faith.”
The first step, according to both the panelists, is the realization of the fact that we are in need of new lifestyles. “The encyclical Laudato si’,” Fr. Scarel affirmed, “exhorts us to go back to traditional Christian spiritualities which basically say that less is more.”
This means reducing the consumption of goods and reaffirming that materialistic ideals do not fulfill life. "We live on a planet with limited resources," Fr. Chilufya claimed, "but our hearts are infinite.
The importance of temperance
Following a question posed by webinar participants, the two panelists analyzed the importance of temperance, by definition, “the virtue which moderates in us the inordinate desire for sensible pleasure, keeping it within the limits assigned by reason and faith.”
The key, according to Fr. Chilufya, is to transfer this approach to our day-to-day lives.
“In every one of us resides the necessity for a purpose, a sense of fulfillment,” concluded the Director of Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa. It’s up to us to direct this desire toward a simpler lifestyle that everyone, including our planet, could benefit from.”