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Vatican, bishops’ conference preparing to celebrate fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’



John Burger - published on 05/01/20 - updated on 05/01/20

Laudato Si’ Week includes online retreat and workshops on eco-spirituality and sustainability.

The Vatican is planning a weeklong observance to mark the fifth anniversary of  Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home.”

Francis signed the encyclical May 24, 2015.

Laudato Si’ Week will be observed May 16-24, and will include an online retreat and workshops on “eco-spirituality” and “sustainability.” The week, sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development, ends with a day of prayer May 24.

Ahead of the fifth anniversary, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops updated its discussion guide on the encyclical, as well as liturgy and preaching resources.

“The theme of Laudato Si’ Week is ‘everything is connected’ and this week launches a year-long journey of transformation, as we grow through the crisis of the current moment by praying, reflecting, and preparing together to build a better tomorrow,” the Vatican website for the observance says. “We’ll put our preparation into action this September during the Season of Creation, which Pope Francis has invited all Catholics to celebrate as an annual season of prayer and action for our common home.”

The website acknowledges the pandemic of COVID-19 and expresses the hope that Laudato Si’ Week will “help us reshape the world that will arise after the pandemic has passed. The present crisis is an opportunity to start anew, and to make sure that the world that arises after this crisis has passed is sustainable and just.”

“Laudato Si’ tells us that “everything is connected” and tragically, this health catastrophe has much in common with the ecological catastrophe,” the website suggests. “Both are global emergencies that will affect many people, both directly and indirectly. Both are experienced most deeply by the poor and vulnerable, and both expose the deep injustices in our societies. Both will be solved only through a united effort that calls on the best of the values we share.”

It goes on to suggest a direct link between the current pandemic and man’s abuse of creation, citing the confluence of the presence of the novel coronavirus in bats and the destruction of bats’ natural habitat, as well as the illegal trade in wildlife.

But the pandemic seems to be having an effect on the environment that gives environmentalists hope that the situation can improve: according to a new report, it has led to an “unprecedented decline” in global carbon emissions.

“Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – are forecast to drop about 8% in 2020, a record annual decline that’s due to COVID-19 lockdowns,” USA Today reported. “The restrictions have caused a massive plunge in fossil fuel use, according to a report released Thursday by the International Energy Agency.”

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