Nowadays, the focus of political reasoning and the media seems to be only on the pandemic that continues to plague the world, relegating the ecological issues into the background. While it is true that the Coronavirus is here to stay, it is also true that it is already having an ecological effect on the world and drawing our attention to environmental issues.
Satellite observations in many cities report a sharp reduction in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which is produced by motor vehicle traffic and other fossil combustion processes. The slowdown in economic activity has, at the same time, led to a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gases. In Venice, the Grand Canal, which hardly ever had seen waters so transparent, now reveal some species of fish and jellyfish rarely seen before. In other cities around the world, animal species have been seen walking the streets thanks to the low human presence. We are witnessing a change that no political agreement has yet reached on environmental issues.
In this scenario, it is not difficult to establish connections between the current pandemic and the environmental crisis. Precisely, one of the principles that articulate the message of the Encyclical Laudato Si is “interconnectivity,” which allows us to see how human activity creates new interfaces which, in turn, find their resonance in all aspects of the life of individuals, of society and our Common Home.
Laudato Si Week is celebrating the fifth anniversary of this Encyclical Letter from May 16th to the 24th, 2020, in the midst of this pandemic, becoming a propitious occasion to perceive the degrees of connection between social reality, human health, socio-economic development, and our Christian faith. In our more concrete context, as Redemptorists, this week can help us discover our environmental vocation so that we can better integrate it into our spirituality and our apostolic life. Pope Francis, in his invitation to this celebration, renews the call to respond to the ecological crisis: “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor call us for an answer to the ecological crisis. Let us take care of creation, the gift of God, our Creator.”
In the Preface to the Final Documents of the 25th General Chapter, Fr. Michael Brehl called for solidarity: “Our reflections on the world in which we live led us to a deeper appreciation of our call to solidarity: solidarity with God, with one another, with the poor. This call to solidarity is not a political or protest movement. Rather, it is a call to fundamental conversion in such a way that each confrere, each community, each Unit, and the whole Congregation is transformed so that we truly form ‘one missionary body’ (Cons. 2)”. (XXV General Chapter, Preface to Final Documents Fr. Michael Brehl).
This is how the celebration of Laudato Si Week, precisely when we are dreaming of a post-pandemic world, should lead us to think and move towards the possibility of a radically different social model. We cannot simply forget the environmental aspect once we return to social and commercial activities, etc. At this juncture, the message of Laudato Si message can help us build the better world we want for all. In this way, the call to solidarity with the wounded world can be understood as a call to solidarity with our Common House, which is crying out because of its wounds. “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan” (LS 164), and we Redemptorists are not absent from this reality.
Therefore, we invite all Redemptorists, lay and consecrated, in their particular contexts and concrete situation, in the midst of this pandemic, to participate, promote, and celebrate Laudate Si Week. In this way, we continue to bring hope to so many in need and to bear witness to the Redeemer in our wounded world. Multiple virtual resources are easily accessible, and proposals for activities are varied. On May 24th, we can join Catholics around the world in praying at noon, depending on the local time; we may follow the attached prayer at this or any other time during the day, according to availability.
Other possible activities that could be promoted are:
On a personal level or within community schedule:
– Encouraging a sustainable lifestyle
– Looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint
– Eliminate single-use plastic
– Plant a tree
Initiatives at the spiritual level
– Conducting spiritual retreats based on the message of Laudato Si
– Incorporation of ecological values in personal and community prayer
– Integration of the values of Laudato Si in our spirituality
– Days of prayer with the laity
– Consider including within our personal and community prayer annual celebrations proposed by the Pope, such as World Day of the Poor, Laudate Week Yes, World Day of Prayer for Creation (September 1st), etc.
– Incorporating ecological values into our preaching
– Promotion of campaigns that convey the message of Laudato Si
– Join global campaigns to demand urgent action on climate change
– Elaboration of printed resources offering Christian formation in the light of the message of
At the social level
– Promote campaigns to clean up lakes, rivers, beaches, neighborhoods
– Combat the unsustainable use of resources such as timber, palm, also the abuse and depletion of wildlife, etc.
– Promotion of activities, talks, etc. at a local level with the authorities and unions to reflect on the message of Laudato Si
Useful virtual links
May 16th—Webinar on “Promoting Integral Ecology in the Digital Age”, 9 am-12 pm (Rome time). They are featuring Fr. Martin Carbajo Nunez, OFM, from the University of the Antonianum and author of Integral Ecology & Communication in the Digital Era. Further explorations of the topic include Sr. Bernadette Reis, FSP, member of the Dicastery for Social communication, and Vatican News with a special focus on “Mass Media Communication and Promotion of Integral Ecology”. Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR, Co-Executive Secretary of the JPIC Commission of USG-UISG and author of several books on ecclesiology, environment, and social transformation, will discuss the topic of “Social Media as a Means of Promoting Integral Ecology”, available in English and Spanish. The JPIC Commission of USG-UISG sponsors this event.