Submitted by Edward Judge | Diocesan Laudato Si’ Task Force
On May 24, 2020, the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, the landmark encyclical letter by Pope Francis “On Care for Our Common Home,” the Vatican announced a special “Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year” lasting through May 24 of 2021. Coming in the midst of a global pandemic, as noted in the announcement, this jubilee year provides “a unique opportunity to transform the present groaning and travail into the birth pangs of a new way of living together, bonded together in love, compassion, and solidarity, and a more harmonious relationship with the natural world, our common home.
Truly, COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we begin to envision a post-COVID world, we need above all an integral approach as ‘everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis’ (LS, 137)”.
Among other things, the anniversary year includes the launching of a seven-year “Laudato Si’ Action Platform” and a call for Catholics to participate each year in the Season of Creation from September 1 through October 4.
Laudato Si’ Action Platform
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform, put forth by the Vatican, calls on families, dioceses, schools, universities, hospitals and health care centers, businesses, farms, and religious orders to embark on a seven-year journey to make “communities around the world totally sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of Laudato Si’.” Key goals include:
• Response to the Cry of the Earth, to promote greater use of clean renewable energy and reduced use of fossil fuels to achieve carbon neutrality.
• Response to the Cry of the Poor, to include defense of human life from conception to death and respect for all forms of life, especially the most vulnerable.
• Ecological Economics, to provide sustainable production, fair-trade practices, ethical consumption and investment, and divestment from fossil fuels.
• Adoption of Simple Lifestyles, to promote reduced use of resources and energy, avoidance of single-use plastic products, transition to primarily plant-based diets, and reduced meat consumption.
• Ecological Education, to involve curricular reform to promote ecological awareness and action.
• Ecological Spirituality, to recover a religious vision of God’s creation with creation-centered liturgical celebrations, catechesis, prayer, retreats, and formation.
• Community involvement and action, to care for creation at local, regional, national, and international levels.
The Season of Creation
Celebrated annually, “the Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through prayer, celebration, reflection, conversion, and action. It begins on September 1, the World Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends on October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of the Environment. In a video released by the Vatican, Pope Francis has invited all Catholics and people of goodwill to join in this annual celebration: “This is the season for letting our prayer life be inspired anew, to reflect on our lifestyles, to undertake prophetic acts for creation. It’s a time to call for courageous decisions and direct our planet toward life, not death.”
The theme for the 2020 Season of Creation is “Jubilee for the Earth.” In the Syracuse Diocese, various parishes and groups are holding special liturgies, prayer services, and educational sessions. Several parishes have formed Laudato Si’ Circles or Creation Care Teams for prayer, reflection, and action in support of our common home.
In addition, the Diocesan Laudato Si’ Task Force has organized two free “Laudato Si’ at Lunch” sessions, presented via Zoom, during this year’s Season of Creation. The first, on “The Scripture and Spirituality of Laudato Si’,” will feature Father Tim Taugher, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Binghamton and will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, 12-1 p.m. The second, on “The Science of Laudato Si’: Threats to Our Common Home,” will feature Dr. Larry Tanner, Professor of Environmental Science Systems at Le Moyne College, and be held Tuesday, Sept. 22, 12-1 p.m. Each will begin with introduction and prayer, followed by a 30-minute presentation and time for questions, answers, and discussion.
For more information and to register, visit faithformationevents.weebly.com.