Mission of
Laudato Si’ Movement

The mission of Laudato Si’ Movement:

To inspire and mobilize the Catholic community to care for our common home and achieve climate and ecological justice.

What does that mean?

Let’s break it down, starting with the first part, “To inspire and mobilize the Catholic community…”

Dr. Lorna Gold

Dr. Lorna Gold, president of the Laudato Si’ Movement Board of Directors:

When we talk of inspiring and mobilizing we are essentially talking about two sides of the same coin. To inspire literally means ‘to call forth the spirit’. To do that, we must first be filled with the Spirit ourselves! That is why, for the Laudato Si Movement, a spirituality of integral ecology is at the very heart of everything we do. To inspire others, we first have to be inspired or Spirit-filled. Our first way of inspiring is therefore through allowing ourselves to experience the Spirit and open our hearts to what God might be calling us. Of course, this can happen in many places and in many ways. The Laudato Si Movement has really found itself at the forefront of creating spaces where Catholics can become more awakened to the ecological crisis, to spiritual communion with nature and each other, and to experience God’s love through ecological conversion. This can happen through Laudato Si Retreats, through special masses, or through the Laudato Si Animators program, to name a few programs. These programs provide the space and time for recollection, prayerful discernment, and spiritual renewal. The local Laudato Si Circles, moreover, provide a way to stay connected and deepen the spiritual journey we are all called to embark on through Laudato Si. Often, what inspires us most are the stories we hear from others in these different places. We hear of individuals who have been touched by God and moved to change their behavior or set up different projects to answer the cry of the earth and the poor. Mobilization is what happens when people are inspired! To mobilize, however, inspiration isn’t enough. It also requires organization. If the energy of the Spirit, which flows where it wishes, is to be channeled into change, it also needs to be harnessed. That is why the Laudato Si Movement has developed local, national, and international support structures to ensure that we can work together to bring about impactful change. Through the wonders of technology, it is amazing to see now that nobody should feel alone even if they are geographically isolated. Working together, we can feel part of a great story – a movement that is emerging in the Church and world today and offering concrete opportunities and solutions to the crises we face.

The next part: To care for our common home… We’ve heard of this before, from Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. But, as a refresher, what does that mean?

Dr. Gold:

Caring for our common home is at the heart of the change we are invited to by Pope Francis. It is not a care that excludes people, of course, It calls on us to care for all, especially the most vulnerable. However, it is a care that acknowledges that we have often neglected the home we share. It requires our special attention now or that home risks being destroyed. The world today faces really urgent ecological crises – scientists have told us that we only have a few years remaining (8 in fact) until the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis become irreversible. That short timeframe should focus our minds. Without a home to live on, there is no future for any of us, most of all the poorest among us. That sense of care denotes a new relationship with our earth. Pope Francis in Laudato Si recalls the intimate relationship that St. Francis of Assisi had with brother sun, sister moon. These were not romantic ideas as sometimes depicted. These were powerful statements that each element, each creature, everything, has been created as a gift. It is not ours to destroy and plunder at will. As a result, we too are called to cultivate an attitude of care in our hearts that is generous, open to all creatures. Another way of expressing care is the word love. We need to love our common home and to do that, we need to know it, understand it. What we truly love we won’t destroy.

We can express that care in many ways depending on who we are and where we are. We know what it means to ‘show we care’ to our loved ones – we mark birthdays, we give gifts, we lend a hand. What does it mean to show we care for the earth? Many communities come together to express their care through engaging in eco-parish projects, making plans to go carbon neutral, using their land for reforestation, organizing clean-ups… Communities mark occasions like Earth Day, Laudato Si Week, and Season of Creation. The look at how their liturgies can reflect better this new understanding of our relationship with Creation. They pray outdoors in nature! As Pope Francis says in Laudato Si “Truly much can be done.” This is really our experience in the Laudato Si Movement. It is truly amazing to see the work that can be done once Catholics take action and join forces with people of all faiths in a great movement for ecological conversion and others decide to care for the earth.

Now the ending, which is new: “achieve climate and ecological justice.” What does that mean and how will this global movement know when it is achieving “climate and ecological justice”? What does that look like?

Dr. Gold:

Yes, we have two things here to note. First, we are broadening our mission to include ecological justice. This is because we have realized, in the spirit of Laudato Si, that ‘everything is interconnected’. Pope Francis keeps coming back to this. You can’t solve urgent issues like climate change in just ways unless you recognize the whole. Ecological is a term that embraces wider issues than rising emissions. It recognizes that the world is facing a systemic crisis in which many of our nine planetary boundaries are being breached. We are facing extinction of species crisis of unparalleled proportions. If we embrace this broader vision, as Pope Francis does, we soon see that we cannot solve the climate crisis through quick technical fixes – which risk creating problems in other areas. Instead, it requires a change of system which starts with a change of heart.

The other thing to note is that the climate is still there. In this transition to a broader vision consistent with Laudato Si, we did not want to lose the initial spark that motivated us into action – the issuing of an encyclical in the contest of the Paris Agreement being negotiated. Neither do we want to lose sight of the fact that this crisis, amid all the mounting crises, is perhaps the most urgent and most irreversible. If we lose the battle on emissions in the next few years, we lose everything. This may sound very stark but we need to keep this front and center in our minds.

The word justice here is very important to. Achieving justice is a call to first recognise the injustice that exists in relation to climate and ecological issues. That injustice is manifold and includes injustice against those in poverty, those who have done least to cause the problems, those who are just born or yet to be born, those who are non-human species. In saying we will strive to achieve climate and ecological justice we are committing ourselves to speaking up specifically for those groups and siding with them in the many struggles we face. I think we need to allow ourselves to feel a kind of sacred anger – just as Jesus did when he chased the money sellers out of the temple. He was enraged that his Father’s house had been turned into a marketplace. Today, the temple of the earth, our sacred, beautiful earth, our only home, is being pillaged and destroyed due to our actions. We need to allow ourselves to feel that pain and harness the anger this provokes in us in a positive way. For me, this means continuing the long tradition of Catholic organisations, and joining with youth organisations and all people of good will in prophetic advocacy. It means speaking truth to power and working tirelessly to ensure that we do everything we can to enable a transition to a liveable future that is just.