“God will give us a new name, which contains the meaning of our entire life.”
Since ancient times, we have known that names denote mission. Likewise, many biblical stories tell us of name changes with deep symbolic meaning − Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, and more. The beautiful tradition of adopting a new name has continued in the life of the Church, as seen in the newly elected popes, various religious sisters and brothers, and in the practice of choosing the name of a saint in the sacrament of Confirmation.
Following this long tradition, today it’s our young movement’s turn to adopt a new name, to better reflect who we are. This brings to a close a long discernment process about the identity and mission of our movement, which we have carried out prayerfully and in a synodal spirit with our members, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. The “prayerful discernment” has been marked by “a readiness to listen: to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways,” as Pope Francis once wrote (GE 172). The ever-worsening cries of the earth and the poor, truly desperate cries, have called us to renew “our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork” (LS 217). In this unique moment in history, we jointly pursue this vocation with a refreshed identity.
SYNODAL DISCERNMENT OUTCOMES
- New name
Over 18 months ago, we embarked on a synodal process to discern our name, as many of us felt that Global Catholic Climate Movement didn’t fully express who we are and what we do. The word “climate” in our old GCCM name, which served us well in the foundational year of 2015 which coincided with the Paris Agreement, soon became inadequate as it didn’t reflect the broader work of “ecological conversion” that we have been pursuing since our early days.
Prayerfully considering many name options together with our members, we eventually discerned that Laudato Si’ Movement was the name that best captured the essence of our movement. In fact, GCCM was founded in January 2015 motivated by rumors in the press about the upcoming encyclical, but without knowing its name (Laudato Si’ was published a few months later). Our foundational statement read: “Pope Francis will be issuing an encyclical about caring for the environment. With this statement, we the undersigned now seek to help bring these teachings of the Church to the world.”
Laudato Si’ has been and continues to be the cornerstone of our movement, even as the Magisterium of the Church has continued to evolve with texts such as Querida Amazonia and Fratelli Tutti. Laudato Si’ is just one milestone in the long tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, a tradition we embrace wholeheartedly; but Laudato Si’s distinctive theme, “care for our common home,” makes it a milestone that has touched our hearts profoundly and brought us together to advance our mission to care for our imperiled planetary home. In fact, in the spirit of an integral ecology, many of our key initiatives are named after the encyclical: LS Animators, LS Week, LS Circles, LS Generation, LS Retreats, and more. We also humbly acknowledge that there is a lot of Laudato Si’ action taking place outside of our movement, starting with the Vatican’s own Laudato Si’ Action Platform which we actively support together with many others. We are delighted with so much life inspired by the encyclical and Querida Amazonia.
The discernment process included a consultation with the Franciscan order, as the expression Laudato Si’ ultimately is a gift from St. Francis of Assisi. Laudato Si’ ultimately is much more than an encyclical; it represents the Franciscan worldview of praise to the Creator in “sublime communion” with all Creation (LS 89). That Franciscan attitude is the climax of what an ecological conversion looks like and serves as the guiding star of all our efforts. The process also included a final consultation with Pope Francis, and we were overjoyed when his positive response arrived a few weeks later on Pentecost Eve, which happens to be the feast when he signed the encyclical in 2015. The Pentecost timing was a blessing that affirmed the Spirit-led nature of the discernment process.
- New Mission Statement
As part of the process we also discerned what our mission statement should state, as that would help inform what our name should be. Reading the signs of the times, we have discerned an updated mission statement: “To inspire and mobilize the Catholic community to care for our common home and achieve climate and ecological justice.”
The broad Laudato Si’ theme of “care for our common home” was reaffirmed, together with particular attention to “climate and ecological justice.” We discerned that it was important to keep the climate and biodiversity emergencies as key global priorities that will bring our movement together in coordinated initiatives. At the same time, the broader “care for our common home” theme provides the flexibility for local chapters and members to work on other issues that are most relevant to their contexts, as they have been doing so far in a spirit of subsidiarity. Grounded in our Catholic identity, we are committed to “a new and universal solidarity” (LS 14), cultivating “fraternity and social friendship” with all humanity (FT 2).
III. New Identity Statement
In parallel, we have also discerned the identity and membership of our young movement, which reaffirmed our understanding of the Laudato Si’ Movement as a hybrid movement that brings together both organizations and grassroots members. Namely, our new identity statement is:
“GCCM seeks to be a Spirit-led movement that brings Catholics together to fulfill its stated mission [listed above]. The movement brings together a wide range of Catholic (1) organizations and (2) grassroots members from around the world. These members walk together in synodality and communion with the universal Church on a journey of ecological conversion. Seeking unity in diversity, organizational and grassroots members come together to pray, collaborate and mobilize in response to the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Guided by a spirit of subsidiarity, when the time and context are right, they co-create or engage with local Laudato Si’ Circles and Chapters and connect with the global movement on a wide range of initiatives to bring Laudato Si’ to life.”
Somehow unintentionally and organically, our movement does not fall into traditional structure options of a grassroots movement or a network of organizations. Right from the very beginning, GCCM’s founding group brought together both institutions and individuals, representing different charisms within the Church while also birthing something new. As Evangelii Gaudium put it, “our model is the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness” (236). At the same time, this “new wine” is corresponded by “new wineskins” (Lk 5:36-39), our emerging structures that we continue to discern. We collaborate with the wider global movement caring for our common home, in dialogue and solidarity “with everyone so that together we can seek paths of liberation” (LS 64).
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
As we look ahead to the future, we, members of the international bodies of the Laudato Si’ Movement, understand this new name to be both a gift and responsibility. It is a gift in that we can more fully embody our love and care for Creation in a holistic way, in the footsteps of St. Francis. The name change is a moment of celebration and affirmation of the fruits of our efforts during the last six years. It is also an honoring of the possibility and promise of what is blossoming. As written in Scripture, “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19)
The name change is also a responsibility. To live up to our name means to truly be a movement that brings Laudato Si’ to life in our communities and world, beyond the Catholic community alone. The word ‘movement’ not only means a group of people, but also connotes action; a group of people ‘moving’. As the Laudato Si’ Movement we are called to ‘move’ Laudato Si’, to help make it a living document. We are called to be “Contempl-activists”, cultivating a contemplative “ecological spirituality” (LS 216) and engaging in prophetic activism. We emulate St. Martha, whose feast we celebrate today, and her sister Mary. Now is the time for transformation, as time is running out.
In closing, with humble hearts we place our movement under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We pray we might always be faithful to God’s messages in Creation: Creation’s song, Creation’s cry, and Creation’s call. Despite the many challenges ahead, we know that “injustice is not invincible” (LS 74) because “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). In faith and confidence, we walk forward in communion with our wider Catholic family, all people of goodwill, and every creature on our planet singing as we go, praising our beloved Creator, so that “our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope” (LS 244). Praised be God! Laudato Si’!
These words by Pope Francis, commenting Jacob’s name change to Israel, were very significant in the discernment process as the speech coincidentally took place the same day we completed the second round of discernment dialogues (10 June 2020).
From the Board of Directors:
- Lorna Gold (Chair)
- Yeb Saño (Vice-Chair)
- Amanda Hanley
- Analisa Ramsahai
- Fr. Augusto Zampini Davies
- John O’Shaughnessy
- Marianne Comfort
- Michel Roy
- Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj
From the Global Membership Council:
- Alirio Caceres Aguirre
Bogotá Archdiocese and Caritas Latin America & the Caribbean (Colombia)
- Allen Ottaro
Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (Kenya)
- Analisa Ramsahai
Franciscan Institute (Trinidad and Tobago)
- Ann Marie Brennan
Christian Life Community (United States)
- Chiara Martinelli
- Dan Misleh
Catholic Climate Covenant (United States)
- Jacqui Remond
Laudato Si’ Consultant (Australia)
- Fr. John Leydon, SSC
Missionary Society of St Columban (Philippines / Ireland)
- Luca Fiorani
Focolare Movement (Italy)
- Marianne Comfort
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas (United States)
- Martin de Jong
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (New Zealand)
- Marvie L. Misolas, MM
Maryknoll Missionaries (Philippines/United States)
- Paulo Baleinakorodawa
Caritas Fiji, Archdiocese of Suva’s Commission for Social & Ecological Justice (Fiji)
- Pedro Duarte Silva
International Catholic Conference of Scouting (Portugal)
- Roxana Esqueff
Red Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Pensamiento Social de la Iglesia, Red de Ecología Integral del Conosur (Uruguay)
- Sr. Sheila Kinsey
JPIC Commission of USG/UISG (United States / Italy)
- Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj, SJ
Jesuit General Curia (India/Italy)
On behalf of the Secretariat:
- Tomás Insua (Executive Director)
- Christina Leaño (Associate Director)