By Ali Biddiscombe
“The current Social Justice Statement from the national bishops challenges us to hear the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor, so we are moved not only to critical ecological and social justice action but also to interior conversion – what an incredible blessing.” – Mrs Carol Mitchell – Director Justice, Ecology and Development Office (JEDO)
LAUDATO Si’ Week (Praise Be to You) will be celebrated by Catholics nationally next week as they join in activities which include individual meditations or collective discussions on the seven goals for the seventh anniversary of the Papal Encyclical.
The seven Laudato Si’ Action Goals are The Cry of the Earth, The Cry of the Poor, Ecological Economics, Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles, Ecological Education, Ecological Spirituality and Community Resilience and Empowerment. Papal Encyclicals (letters) are part of rich Catholic Tradition. Laudato Si’ is the first social Encyclical to address the complex social and ecological crisis facing our world. It calls on all Catholics and others of goodwill to take joint responsibility to care for our world, our common home, safeguarding it for future generations, valuing human life and all creatures as well as protecting our climate and biodiversity.
The annual celebration dates enable the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace to prepare prayer, reflection and action materials which can be adapted for use in parishes and schools, or for individuals. Director of JEDO, Mrs Carol Mitchell, said The ACBC Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace has provided some great resources for Laudato Si’ Week to help us on our shared journey to profound care for Creation, our Creator and each other. In response to the urgent call to action, Laudato Si’ Week provides opportunities to ‘think globally but act locally’ by engaging with ecological actions within our families, parishes and schools. Individuals can decide to meditate on the seven daily offerings of quotes from the Encyclical, or the prayer, reflection and action materials prepared by the ACBC Office for Justice Ecology and Peace. As an example, on day four, Friday, 20 May 2022, the goal is Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles, with a focus on the Encyclical quote: “Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity” (Laudato Si’, n 211). The day includes reflection and prayer as well as actions for the head, the heart and hands.
Mrs Mitchell said parishes, schools and families were also encouraged to take part in the week with specific materials written to assist in dialogue and action. “The current Social Justice Statement from the national bishops also challenges us to hear the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor so we are moved not only to critical ecological and social justice action but also to interior conversion – what an incredible blessing. JEDO can also assist you on our shared journey,” she said. To engage further with Laudato Si’ Week (and beyond), Catholic Earthcare have developed programs for families, parishes and schools designed around four phases. Phase 1 is to form the heart for change; Phase 2 is to create a vision for change; Phase 3 is to empower action and implement the change, and Phase 4 is to reflect and animate others.
Mrs Mitchell said Catholic schools can register their interest with Catholic Earthcare (a program of Caritas Australia) for the call-to-action program when they have the readiness to act on ecological justice and sustainability issues. She said Catholic Earthcare had also developed a process to assist parishes on the journey towards the seven goals and to becoming ‘Living Laudato Si’ communities’ via a three-step certification process (register, audit and act) which aims to inform, guide and inspire parishes. Information and access to the web page for both parish and school programs can also be accessed directly or via a QR CODE in the link below.
The official week ends on Tuesday, 24 May 2022 but, as suggested by the ACBC Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, the challenge continues! Laudato Si’ Week will be a time of invitation and challenge for all people of goodwill; however, continuing to move forward will take creativity and commitment. “The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a space for institutions, communities and families to learn and grow together as we journey towards full sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology.”