The occasion that gave rise to the idea of setting up the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation was the Encyclical "Centesimus Annus" promulgated by Saint John Paul II on 1 May 1991.
This year, the foundation’s International Conference has chosen to reflect on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, Laudato si’.
Greeting conference participants on Saturday, the Pope noted that in the last four years since the document’s publication there had been signs of an increased awareness of the need to care for “our common home.”
In particular, he mentioned the adoption, by many nations, of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as, “a growing investment in renewable and sustainable energy sources; new methods of energy efficiency; and a greater sensitivity, especially among young people, to ecological concerns.”
But the Pontiff also pointed to a number of challenges and issues that still remain, such as, improper use of natural resources and attitudes of unbridled individualism, consumption and wastefulness.
“Faced with the enormity of such challenges”, he said, “it would be easy to lose heart, giving in to uncertainty and anxiety. Yet, he quoted, “human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”.
Renewed ethical vision
The Pope underlined that, “adequate responses to current problems cannot be superficial.” Rather, he added, “what is needed is precisely a conversion, a “turning around”, that is, a transformation of hearts and minds.”
In order to overcome problems including hunger and food insecurity, and the culture of waste, what was needed was a “renewed ethical vision, one that places people at the center, desiring to leave no one on the margins of life.”
It is a vision, he said, “which unites rather than divides, includes rather than excludes.”
The road ahead
Pope Francis stressed that the development of an integral ecology, was “both a call and a task".
He continued by saying that, this task was “to change “models of global development”, opening a new dialogue on the future of our planet.”
Although this work seems daunting, he said, “I encourage you not to lose hope, for that hope is based upon the merciful love of our Father in heaven.”