At noon today, Catholics around the world are invited to recite the “Common Prayer for the 5th Anniversary of Laudato si“. This “Global Prayer” event marks the culmination of Laudato si’ week celebrations and the beginning of a new Anniversary Year for Pope Francis’ encyclical on the care for our common home.
The ongoing pandemic has limited planned Laudato si’ week events to a series of online webinars, meetings and retreats, but Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said he had “seen very enthusiastic, widespread participation”. During the week, the Dicastery cited this wide-spread enthusiasm when announcing that it would be launching further events as part of a newly organised Anniversary Year for the encyclical.
Despite the organizational difficulties imposed by the coronavirus crisis, Fr Kureethadam said that the pandemic could become a turning point in our relation to the environment: “the word ‘crisis’ in Greek means ‘opportunity,’ and in modern languages, we have forgotten that deeper meaning of a crisis,” he said. “You need to stop, think and change course. The pandemic has been telling us this.”
Many of the major Anniversary Year events arrive in autumn, with “Season of Creation” celebrations organized throughout September and a major three-day Vatican conference on the “Economy of Francis” arranged for November 19-21, but activities and multimedia events are scheduled to take place throughout the year and organizers have encouraged families and communities to participate throughout the period by participating in sustainability initiatives, including a plan to plant one trillion trees.
At the start of Laudato si’ week, a number of Catholic groups took part in one such initiative: a joint-pledge by faith bodies to divest over £1 billion in fossil fuel assets, the largest-ever such divestment by faith groups. The participating groups included the Jesuits in Britain, the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and the UK branch of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace.
In light of the announcement, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace said that they are now researching how to make the same divestment in the United States. Assistant Congregation Leader Sr. Susan Francois said: “We are learning from our sisters here in the United Kingdom who paved the way.” Speaking to the Catholic Herald, Sr. Francois described the enduring influence of Pope Francis’ encyclical that lay behind the congregation’s divestment efforts: “When Pope Francis wrote LaudatoSi, we were filled with delight that the church was being called to take responsibility for care of Earth, our common home,” she said. “We were encouraged by the moral leadership of Pope Francis to look more closely at how we might align our investment policy with our spirituality of peace with all creation.”