The experiences of Laudato si' collected in an e-book
By Gabriella Ceraso
The global message of the encyclical Laudato si' continues to have a profound impact around the world, calling on everyone to be caretakers of our common home through a dialogue that involves all people. Released six years ago, the encyclical has generated discussion and concrete action among religious believers and ecclesial communities throughout the world. The momentum generated has given rise to surprising initiatives creating dialogue over our planet, the role of humanity, and promoting awareness over the need to respect ecosystems and biodiversity. A selection of these reflections and feedback from individuals and communities are brought together in the book "Laudato si' Reader. An Alliance of Care for Our Common Home", published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV) in conjunction with the COP26 summit. The text, in e-book format, will be available free for download from 12 November via the website of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, which promoted its publication, from the LEV website and from the English section of Vatican News. The book contains contributions from environmental activists, ambassadors, Church personalities, and representatives of various Christian denominations. The printed format will be available from www.libreriaeditricevaticana.va
In the preface written by Pope Francis, he notes it as "a fitting conclusion" to the ‘Laudato si’ Special Anniversary Year celebrated from 24 May 2020 to 24 May 2021. He describes with expressions the "Cry of the Poor" and the "Cry of the Earth" as emblematic consequences of our failure to care for the common home, worsened by the pandemic. At the same time they involve interrelated crises that once again the Pope sees as an opportunity to change the way things are done and develop a "a new form of universal solidarity that is grounded in fraternity, love, and mutual understanding: one that values people over profit, one that seeks new ways to understand development and progress".
Guterres: a ceasefire is needed in the war on nature
The Pope's words resonate with the deepest wishes of the United Nations' and reflect its commitments, notes Secretary-General António Guterres with his special introductory message for the book.
He recalled how the Pope's encyclical came at an important time when UN Member States were deep in negotiations on working out sustainable development and climate change agreements. Laudato si' provided an important contribution to their deliberations, also pointing to the urgency to act in the face of the environmental disasters the world is facing today. Mr. Guterres writes, "This is a moment of truth. If we persist with the old ways of inequality, injustice, hatred and heedless dominion over the Earth, we face disaster. Just as we need a ceasefire on traditional battlefields, so must we end our war on nature...Making peace with nature must be a priority for the 21st century. The recovery from the pandemic offers a chance to pull back from the abyss."
The UN Secretary General speaks of an "epic policy test", but also a "moral test". There are then four urgent matters and commitments that Guterres puts to the attention of humanity: net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; helping those who are already facing the dire impacts of climate change; aligning global finance with the commitments of the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals; and finally curbing the broader planetary emergency. "This is a moment of truth. If we persist," Guterres writes, "with the old ways of inequality, injustice, hatred and heedless dominion over the Earth, we face disaster.
Global action and solidarity for a peaceful future
What is needed is global action and global solidarity to protect the environment and the "vast ranks of the excluded". Guterres repeats and finally makes his own the Pope's appeal in defense of the most vulnerable, for disarmament, the fight against poverty and the climate emergency. He reiterates the importance of trust in multilateralism, in the role of international organizations and diplomacy as instruments to support humanity, protect our common home and promote the common good. And, recalling the encyclical Fratelli tutti, he concludes, "the world needs to strengthen the bonds of global cooperation to build a future of peace for all."