Image source: Agência ECCLESIA/HM

On the eve of World Youth Day (WYD), an event was held that marked a path for this new encounter between Pope Francis and the youth, this year in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. The 4th International Conference on the Care of Creation took place on Monday, July 31 at the Portuguese Catholic University, and this is what the young people in attendance had to say:

“We are making an appeal:

  • To all the young people of the world: Let us join forces to reverse course; let us work together for the common good with the enthusiasm that characterizes us.
  • To the Catholic Church, that it may listen to and accept what the Holy Spirit is telling it about the safeguarding of creation (…) We ask pastors and all those in positions of responsibility in our Church to set a good example of ecological conversion.
  • To Christian churches and all other religious denominations: We ask for the promotion of universal brotherhood, the culture of encounter, benevolence and lifestyles that are sustainable and inclusive.
  • To the families of the world, that they may be ecosystems of love, dedication, patience, responsibility and the transmission of Gospel values and coexistence. That they create spaces of sharing and discernment for the care of our common home.
  • To the world of economy, production and entrepreneurship: We call for the prohibition of commercial strategies that generate waste and all kinds of harmful addictions…
  • To governments and politics: We ask for lasting policies for the protection of our common home, that put the human being at the center and give everyone the same opportunities to grow and contribute to the development of their community. We ask you to lay down your arms and put an end to all wars”.*

Read the full statement here

Card. Michael Czerny, prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, reflected at the opening of the conference on the commitment of young people to integral ecology, as well as on the lifestyles required “for a new humanity.”

“It is a theme with a surprisingly prophetic tone,” Czerny said, “because it relates directly to the turning point in history – these times that are called the Anthropocene.” He explained that the Anthropocene “is a new geological epoch, which names an astonishing turning point in the history of our planet,” since “never before have homo sapiens lived in such an era,” in which, “overwhelmingly,” humans “have significantly altered all of the earth’s systems: the atmosphere, the oceans, the continents and ecosystems, the entire community of life on earth.”

As a consequence, “we are now experiencing disturbing trends: the ice is disappearing, the oceans are warmer and more acidic, sea levels are rising, there is extreme weather leading to droughts, floods and catastrophic events such as wildfires,” Cardinal Czerny continued. 

Finally, he proposed nine concrete actions for the transformation of all global systems: “Achieving zero emissions by mid-century; protected forests and habitats; protecting ocean coasts from erosion by planting mangroves; transforming cities; greening transportation; regenerative agriculture; Earth-responsible economics and finance; environmental education; and the individual role of each person in integral ecology”.

Read Card. Michael Czerny’s full speech here

Also present was Card. Manuel Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon, who valued the “contemplative attitude towards nature”; and warned of a fundamental ecological attitude “that things do not happen externally” but that they have “an echo in the heart”.

In addition, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform was presented by John Mundell, director of the U.S. platform.

The statement written by the youth will be delivered to the Pope upon his arrival in Lisbon on Wednesday, August 2nd.

The conference welcomed hundreds of young people who will be participating in WYD, including several Laudato Si’ Movement members who officiated as servers. In addition, LSM collaborated in the organization with the Vatican Dicasteries for the Laity, Family and Life, and for Promoting Integral Human Development; the John Paul II Foundation; the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation; the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and the Magis Foundation.

Full conference video in English

*Excerpt summary. See full text here