Pope Francis launched Tuesday the Vatican’s seven-year Laudato si’ action plan to implement environmental sustainability in different sectors of the Church from religious orders to Catholic schools and hospitals.
“We need a new ecological approach that can transform our way of dwelling in the world, our styles of life, our relationship with the resources of the Earth and, in general, our way of looking at humanity and of living life,” Pope Francis said in a video message May 24.
He said that the year would be followed immediately by a seven-year plan known as the Laudato si’ Action Platform.
The Laudato si’ Action Platform will focus on seven sectors: families, parishes, schools, hospitals, businesses, organizations, and religious orders.
The pope explained that the action plan also has seven goals: the response to the cry of the earth, the response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of simple lifestyles, ecological education, ecological spirituality, and community involvement.
“Our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible ways are threatening the future of our children,” Pope Francis said.
“I therefore renew my appeal: let us take care of our mother Earth … let us overcome the temptation of selfishness that makes us predators of resources, let us cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation, let us inaugurate a lifestyle and a society that is finally eco-sustainable.”
“We have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. From God’s hands we have received a garden, we cannot leave a desert to our children,” he added.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the prefect for the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, said at a press conference May 24 that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many of the Vatican’s planned events, conferences, and celebrations for the Laudato Si’ year, but expressed gratitude to the parishes and associations that organized local events.
In particular, the cardinal commended Catholics in Bangladesh for planting 700,000 trees over the course of the past year.
Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, who leads the Ecology and Creation section of the Vatican dicastery, stressed that the Laudato Si’ Action Platform can only be accomplished in partnership with “the synodal path that Pope Francis is proposing to the entire Church.”
“Integral ecology demands that we journey together on this mission,” he said.
Kureethadam explained that the first year of the initiative will be dedicated to “drawing up concrete action plans” following by “five years of concrete action” with the final year dedicated to “praise and thank God.”
In addition to the Vatican dicastery, Eco-Jesuit, the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM), the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the Union of Religious Superiors in Rome, and other Catholic groups are involved with the organization of the seven years of programming.
“On a journey that will last for seven years, we will let ourselves be guided by the seven aims of Laudato si’, which will show us the direction while we pursue the vision of integral ecology,” Pope Francis said.
“There is hope. We can all collaborate, each one with his own culture and experience, each one with her own initiatives and capacities, so that our mother Earth may be restored to her original beauty and creation may once again shine according to God’s plan.”