Pope Francis is calling on all Catholics to take part in a special week, beginning tomorrow, marking the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si'.
While previously planned events for Laudato Si' week are now not possible, organisers said Catholics can still "grow through the crisis of the current moment by praying, reflecting, and preparing together for a better world to come. The lessons of the encyclical are particularly relevant in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought many parts of the world to a halt."
Bishop John Arnold, the lead Bishop for the environment in England and Wales, will be celebrating mass online on next Wednesday 20 May at 6pm to mark the anniversary.
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Robert Byrne CO, issued a statement praising the encyclical as "a prophetic document that has given a theological and spiritual framework to the environmental crisis facing our world which already effects our daily lives and will continue to do so in the future."
The care of the environment is a responsibility we cannot avoid, he said. "Damage to our common home has continued apace. In the last year alone we saw unprecedented flooding, drought, wildfires in Australia and California, continued deforestation and the burning of the Amazon unfolding before our eyes, cyclones devastating Mozambique, the outbreak of a global pandemic, a third mass bleaching of the great barrier reef, all causing suffering to our global family."
"The Pope has been clear in insisting that our care for our brothers and sisters and our common home depends upon our own personal daily actions and it is evident that, even by small and seemingly insignificant actions – when added together – we make an essential and tangible impact for the good. Technology can assist us but real progress must depend on our own actions.
"The idea of our connectedness as human beings making up the human family is essential to understanding the plight we face. Of course, as Catholics we belong to a truly international family with direct connections throughout the globe."
In a special reflection, Sr Margaret Atkins, a Canoness of St Augustine in the community at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria and who was a senior lecturer in theology at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds, said: "Out of the blue, most of the world was invited on retreat. We were forced to ponder our mortality, our vulnerability, our weakness, our ignorance. We were prompted to repent of the collective thoughtlessness of our modern way of life and its side-effects. We have had to slow down, to abandon our ordinary routines, to wean ourselves from the addictions of 'business as usual'. Our values have been overturned: care workers, fruit pickers, parcel packers and cleaners have become our new saints, while go-getters, celebrities and billionaires kick their feet in their own homes.
"We have rediscovered our neighbours, and even our own families. We have shared our fears and anxieties; we have grieved together, even at a distance, for the wonderful individual human beings we have lost. We have publicly honoured courage, fidelity, and simple acts of kindness. We have learnt to value statesmanlike modesty, honesty and truthfulness over political bluster."
She said that religious have been praying more intensely, with more focus, than for decades.
"And many, many others, who do not normally pray, have begun to join us, without embarrassment. We know that we cannot do this by ourselves."
Five years, on Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', remains a "profound invitation to everyone on the planet to care for our common home".
Laudato Si' week is sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and facilitated by Global Catholic Climate Movement and Renova+ in collaboration with a cohort of Catholic partners. More information here.
Summary of Laudato Si' written by Sr Margaret.
Laudato Si' can be download here.
Columban newsletter Vocation for Justice celebrating the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si'.
Film resources for discussion groups – could be done on-line eg through zoom.
Resources from the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
Laudato Si' study guide and prayers.
Actions can include CAFOD Climate Campaigns.
Or becoming a live simply community.
Praying with the Gospels, stories from around the world and excerpts from Laudato Si' from Liverpool Justice and Peace and CAFOD.
Links to streamed Masses, Rosary and a Faith for the Climate Network webinar event can be found here.