On Thursday morning, October 5, the press conference “Laudate Deum: voices and testimonies on the climate crisis” was held in the Vatican Gardens, in Largo della Radio, in front of the Palazzina Leone XIII of the Vatican, to present Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation.
Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, introduced the speakers who participated, both in person and remotely. Ridhima Pandey, protagonist of the film “The Letter”, and Alessandra Sarmentino, Laudato Si’ Animator from the Archdiocese of Palermo, participated with their testimonies.
Firstly, Giorgio Leonardo Renato Parisi, Nobel Laureate in Physics (2021) said: “It may seem a bit strange to have a papal document that begins with a scientific explanation”. However, he explained why the Holy Father found it necessary to do it this way.
Parisi mentioned how, despite attempts to relativize the signs of climate change, “they are very evident; they are here among us”. At the same time, he explained how cold waves are also an effect of global warming. We are facing a “human and social problem”, he added, with the proposal of a global plan to develop renewable energies, especially in low-income countries.
This was followed by online speeches by Vandana Shiva, scientist, activist and environmentalist, and Carlo Petrini, sociologist and activist. Shiva began by saying, “The Pope reminds us that we are all connected, united to creatures through God,” and encouraged the development of “a different kind of economy,” “a system that takes into account the role of the Earth.”
On his part, Petrini referred to the “dramatic moment” that Laudate Deum invites us to bring to consciousness. “Eight years after Laudato Si’, no great steps were made. On the contrary, our land is compromised,” he said. For this reason, he encouraged people to have “a stronger stance.”
Then Jonathan Safran Foer, an American writer, began by expressing his emotion at the urgency of the Pope’s message. Safran Foer invited us to awaken our collective conscience and said that the “worst sin of denialism” is “feigning concern and doing nothing”.
Luisa-Marie Neubauer, leader of Fridays for Future in Germany, referred to the action of the youth, encouraged especially by Pope Francis, and called on young people to join the cultural revolution. Although she spoke of what frightens and shakes her about the crisis, she put her hope in Laudate Deum and activist efforts.
This was followed by a series of testimonies: Benoit Halgand, co-founder of the French youth organizations “For an ecological awakening” and “Lutte et Contemplation”; Jubran Ali Mohammed Ali, a Libyan youth.
Then Ridhima Pandey, in her testimony, stressed that the Pope speaks of the climate “crisis” and this gives us a vision of urgency. She called for action and respect for biodiversity. Alessandra Sarmentino, for her part, spoke of a series of catastrophes that unfolded in her region. Is it worth celebrating the Season of Creation after all this?, she wondered, and invited people to have an active citizenship as she does in her participation in the Laudato Si’ Movement.