In a momentous event on October 4, 2023, the world witnessed a unique unveiling of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking apostolic exhortation, “Laudate Deum.” This gathering brought together an extraordinary lineup of environmental visionaries and leaders alongside over 14,000 viewers who have dedicated their lives to the cause of environmental conservation and sustainability. Together, they explored the document’s significance and practical dimensions.
A Message for Our Faith
Lindlyn Moma, the Global Advocacy Director in Laudato Si’ Movement, welcomed everyone with festive greetings for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. She moderated the conversation by grounding all the speakers in one of the document’s most pivotal and provocative quotes:
“Eight years have passed since I published the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, when I wanted to share with all of you, my brothers and sisters of our suffering planet, my heartfelt concerns about the care of our common home. Yet, with the passage of time, I have realized that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” (LD 2)
This moment ushered in a video message from Cardinal Michael Czerny who shared his insights amid the intersection of faith and science, emphasizing that “Laudate Deum” is “neither repeating nor replacing anything in Laudato Si’,” but innovates upon a focus on the climate crisis and the scientific consensus on the planet’s deterioration.”
Policymakers, Activist, and Scientists Illuminate “Laudato Deum”
Dr. Johan Rockström explained the scientific dimensions of “Laudate Deum” with his expertise as Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
“Pope Francis’ conclusion that we are making no progress is taking us close to unmanageable risks has scientific support…We have the warmest temperature on earth this year over the past 100,000 years. ..Our latest science has mapped 16 tipping points for this year…”
Christiana Figueres, renowned as the architect of the Paris Agreement, highlighted the three human languages–head, heart, and hands–that Pope Francis identified to “protect nature and the most vulnerable of our societies” for all present and future generations.
This was followed by a recording of Bill McKibben, a prolific writer and environmentalist, who emphasized the original impact of Laudato Si’ and the voices of faith leaders among the choir of scientists, engineers, and writers advocating for the planet. “It’s high time for the human heart to do its job,” McKibben proclaimed.
Tzeporah Berman, a climate advocate and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative, provided strategic insights into advocating for environmental causes and the imperative of phasing out fossil fuels in the upcoming COP28:
“I think what’s exciting about the Holy Father’s statement and the run up to COP is that we are seeing seismic shifts in the way we talk about the climate crisis. We have had 27 COPS that have not talked about fossil fuels… the Paris Agreement didn’t even include the words “fossil fuels”…Today, the Holy Father pointed out that gas and oil companies are planning new projects and he pointed out the influence of the fossil fuel industry.”
A Protagonist of “The Letter” Joins the Conversation
At this point in the conversation, Lindlyn Moma welcomed a face familiar to Laudato Si’ Movement. Ridhima Pandey, a young climate activist from India featured in the documentary The Letter, shared her key impressions of the document:
“That emphasis on the word “crisis” is really important…we often just regard this as something that doesn’t really need much attention…”Laudato Deum” is this huge inspiration…and gives you this alarming overview that this crisis impacts a lot of people..it is the reality of the world. The science supports it…And it is now [people] have to take action…”
This was followed by a video message by a video message from Rev. Fletcher Harper of Greenfaith who emphasized the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to support vulnerable communities.
Professor Dan Horan, OFM, PhD, an expert in theology and spirituality, explored the Franscican dimensions of “Laudate Deum” and its guidance for environmental justice:
“One of the things we must keep in mind…is to see “Laudate Deum” as an addendum to Laudato Si’ so the spiritual influence is present in this text as much as Laudato Si’…Francis of Assisi intuited and recognized his relationship with creation..and called all creatures, human and otherwise, as siblings…”
Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the global Anglican Church, expanded upon the spiritual aspects of the discussion and noted that “Laudate Deum” is a call “to every human being, from the mouth of the Pope, calling for a united humanity that will serve our suffering creation and heal the wounds of our world.”
This unprecedented gathering transcended geographical boundaries, uniting visionaries from science to theology to policy to explore the profound implications of “Laudate Deum.” To conclude this gathering, after a series of audience questions to all speakers, Lindlyn Moma invited everyone to celebrate with the song “A Prayer for the Earth” by Hazzan Steve Klaper & Br. Al Mascia, OFM. The voices at this event not only celebrated this important document, but also inspired a global movement towards a more sustainable and just future.
The Next Steps
Join these voices and take action now! Explore and use the resources from an educational toolkit on “Laudate Deum” built by the Laudato Si’ Movement and empower others to learn, engage, and take meaningful steps towards a more sustainable and harmonious world for all.
Want to learn about “Laudato Deum” predecessor Laudato Si’? Watch “The Letter,” the powerful documentary film that brings the original Laudato Si’ to life with stories and beautiful footage of our planet. Witness the journey of event speaker Ridhima Pandey as they advocate for a more sustainable world. Watch “The Letter” and be inspired to take action for our planet’s future.
See the full event recording below: