Laudato si’ encyclical’s anniversary celebrations start on Sunday

The Vatican will launch a year-long celebration of Laudato si’ on Sunday, to mark Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment’s fifth anniversary.

The “special Laudato si’ anniversary year” is an initiative of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Dicastery has organised events this week in the lead-up to the celebratory year, including several Zoom video-conferencing meetings with the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

“We hope that the anniversary year and the ensuing decade will indeed be a time of grace, a true Kairos experience and ‘Jubilee’ time for the Earth, and for humanity, and for all God’s creatures,” the Dicastery says.

The initiatives, undertaken in partnership with other groups, have “a clear emphasis on ‘ecological conversion’ in ‘action,’” it continued.

In the five years since Francis signed the encyclical, the Dicastery says it “appears ever more relevant,” and given that the anniversary falls in the midst of the global pandemic, its “message is just as prophetic today as it was in 2015.

“The encyclical can indeed provide the moral and spiritual compass for the journey to create a more caring, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world,” the Dicastery comments.

In England Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who is the Archbishop of Westminster, is preparing for the celebrations. This week he published a video where he applauds “the great leadership of Pope Francis”.

Nichols says the anniversary is an opportunity, “to reassess our relationship with our beautiful world”.

Other English bishops have marked the upcoming anniversary – one with a special Mass which was live-streamed from England’s Salford Cathedral, another praising the encyclical saying it is a “prophetic document that has given a theological and spiritual framework to the environmental crisis facing our world”.

The official five-eyar anniversary celebrations organised by the Dicastery will begin on Sunday with a day of prayer for the earth and humanity. A prayer was written for the occasion which people are being encouraged to say at noon anywhere in the world.

In June, the Dicastery plans to release a document on “operation guidelines” for Laudato si’. On 18 June there will be a webinar marking the encyclical’s release anniversary.

Other special projects this year will include new annual Laudato si’ Awards, a documentary film on Laudato si’, a tree initiative, and a social media “Read the Bible Contest,”. In addition there will be and the ecumenical “Season of Creation” month which will run from the beginning of September to the beginning of October.

Next year, the Dicastery will begin a seven-year programme for families, dioceses, schools, and universities. The programme will work toward integral ecology through the lens of Laudato si’.

The anniversary year will conclude in 2021 with a conference, the launch of multi-year sustainability action plans, the performance of a musical work and the conferring of the first Laudato si’ awards.



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