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5 year anniversary of ground-breaking papal encyclical on the environment

18 May 2020

‘Laudato Si’, Care for Our Common Home’ is being celebrated this week. Published in May 2015 this document is a clarion call which has inspired millions of people around the world to take urgent action on the environmental crisis.

Dublin Climate Strikes, September 2019. Photo : Garry Walsh

“I wish to address every person… I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (Laudato SI’ 1,14).

These are the opening words from Pope Francis in his ground-breaking encyclical Laudato Si’, Care for Our Common Home.

Published in May 2015 this document is a clarion call which has inspired millions of people around the world to take urgent action on the environmental crisis. This week we celebrate the document’s fifth anniversary.

As we celebrate Laudato Si this week it is good to recall some key moments in Ireland since its publication:

  • The passing of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill in 2018 made history as Ireland became the first country in the world to commit to withdrawing public money invested in fossil fuels.
  • In 2018, on the eve of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland, the Irish Bishops Conference announced their commitment to divest their shared assets from the fossil fuel industry. Many individual dioceses and congregations in Ireland have also joined this divestment movement. 
  • Parishes around the country have engaged in eco-action with a huge increase in parishes receiving the Eco-Parish award from Eco-Congregation Ireland as well as celebrating the annual Season of Creation (1st September – October 4th). 
  • In September 2019, many parishes joined 20,000 people at the Global Climate Strike in Dublin urging our government to take action on climate. 
  • In March 2020, a Trócaire led Laudato Si conference in Carlow attracted 220 people from across three dioceses. This conference drew on a broad base of expertise from the energy sector to youth climate action groups. It focused on how to celebrate Laudato Si in liturgy as well as practical actions for parishes. It was a day full of hope and inspiration. 
  • As preparation for this Laudato Si week, 40 people have come together with Trocaire to explore the document in a Laudato Si online book club. We are learning from one another as we reflect together on how to Live Laudato Si and other parishes are beginning a similar project as a result. 

Laudato Si’ tells us that “everything is connected” and as we celebrate Laudato Si this week, we are also mindful that, tragically, our current health crisis has much in common with the ecological catastrophe.

Both are global emergencies affecting millions of people around the world. Both are experienced most deeply by the poor and vulnerable, exposing the deep injustices in our societies. Both will be solved only through a united effort that calls on the best of the values we share.

As we prepare for the journey beyond COVID-19, may this week be an opportunity to reflect on what kind of world we want to emerge into.

How can we work together for a more sustainable world? This is a threshold moment.

If you would like to get in touch with us to explore how your community can Live Laudato Si please contact [email protected]

Pope Francis tells us, “Hope would have us recognise that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps….All it takes is one good person to restore hope… Truly, much can be done!” (Laudato Si, 61, 180).