Vatican urges Catholics into action on Pope Francis’ Laudato si’

20200818  Press Conference at Holy See Press for the presentation of the Document entitled  On the way to the care of the common home   Five years after the Laudato si Mons Paul Richard Gallagher Daniel Ibez 12 Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for relations with states. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

With a new 200-page document, the Vatican is encouraging Catholics to put their faith into action to promote integral ecology and care of creation, following the inspiration of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si'.

The introduction of On the Journey for Care of the Common Home says "the intention is to offer an orientation to the action of Catholics (but not only) in the secular dimension and to ask every Christian to examine their own behavior, also in everyday life…"

The document was presented June 18 in Italian. The booklet will be available in other languages in the near future.

The call to action was written in view of what Pope Francis wrote in Laudato si': "a healthy relationship with creation as a dimension of the integral conversion of the person."  

The text was put together by the Holy See's inter-dicastery group for integral ecology, formed in 2018. The booklet's release falls during the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato si'

It is composed of 12 thematic sections, each beginning with a quotation from Laudato si'. This is followed by a brief introduction and contextualization of the quotation and a list of references for related papal documents and speeches from Pope Francis and several of his predecessors.

Each section concludes with actions to take and examples of "best practices" from Catholic groups and bishops' conferences around the world on caring for the common home.

According to the document's introduction, the starting point is what Pope Francis calls the encyclical's pillars, including the relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, "the belief that everything in the world is intimately connected," "the invitation to look for other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the proper value of each creature," and "the serious responsibility of international and local politics."

"On the basis of these main axes, efforts have been made to identify and propose some operational guidelines, always keeping in mind that the concrete contribution the Church can offer is not primarily technical-scientific, but rather educational-pastoral and cultural," the booklet states.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the secretary for relations with states, presented the document with other Vatican officials and lay Catholic leaders.

In response to a question about the United States leaving the Paris Agreement, Gallagher said in the area of environmentalism, "the state is not the only actor here…"

"I think this is an irresistible world movement, social movement, a movement of faith, a movement of human commitment, and I think humanity will not be blown off course by any decisions by anybody, but obviously we welcome anybody coming back to the table," the archbishop said. 

The Holy See and the Vatican City State are also making their own changes to be more environmentally friendly with "little everyday actions," Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga said.

The secretary general of the governorate of Vatican City State, he described these measures, which include recycling, using more energy efficient lights in the Vatican and in St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, recycling the water used in fountains, and the installation of solar panels.

A project being pursued but which had to be paused during the coronavirus emergency is the installation of a composter on Vatican property.

In the Vatican Gardens, they have also stopped using chemical pesticides and have planted 250 new trees and around 2,300 hedge plants, he said. This information can also be found in the back of the new document.

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