At the completion of the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year in 2021, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development plans to launch a seven-year journey to sustainability in the spirit of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical called the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Two representatives of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), Executive Director Father Frank Donio, SAC, and Bethany Welch, Ph.D., CMSM Fellow for Justice and Peace, have been invited by the dicastery to represent the United States as members of the Religious Orders Working Group.
Religious institutes, societies and monastic communities also are being invited to participate in the initiative. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a call to the universal Church – families, parishes and dioceses, educational institutions, health care centers, the economy, organizations and groups, and religious orders – to take concrete steps toward a sustainable future in the spirit of Laudato Si’.
The Action Platform includes seven goals that provide opportunities for religious provinces, institutes and monastic communities, regardless of prior engagement in sustainability efforts, to participate: Response to the Cry of Earth; Response to the Cry of the Poor; Ecological Economics; Simple Lifestyles; Ecological Education; Ecological Spirituality; and Community Involvement and Participatory Action.
The Union of Superiors General (USG) and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) will coordinate the efforts of religious orders at the international level. Here in the United States, CMSM will work collaboratively with the staff of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), with the assistance of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and the U.S.-based Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC).
CMSM members will receive updates on this new initiative. Provinces, institutes, and monastic communities that choose to participate also will receive support in their efforts.
Among the short-term projects will be a series of webinars outlining the journey and highlighting efforts congregations have already undertaken here in the U.S. CMSM and LCWR also will facilitate a private discussion group for representatives designated by a major superior to share information and seek advice. Major superiors have been invited to appoint a representative to this group.
Province/Institute Level Engagement
Religious communities’ participation is to be built on three pillars: public commitment to the seven-year journey; action steps to transition to integral ecology; and networking and advocacy for systemic change at the local, national and international levels.
An institute’s plans for this seven-year journey would be informed by its charism, experience and situation:
- The process should connect with the institute’s charism and enliven its mission and ministry, building on what the province, institute, or community already is doing.
- The plan should be simple and gradual enough to be manageable, given other commitments and personnel limits.
- The vision should be inspiring enough to motivate. This initiative is an opportunity to live charism and prophetic mission to the fullest.
The process will be flexible to suit different situations and contexts and an online platform will provide a sense of direction and essential points of reference.
A Laudato Si’ Action Platform website will help to raise awareness about the project and provide guides, toolkits and support for the journey forward. Available to Catholic institutions worldwide, the website will provide a framework and resources to help implement the seven goals in a manner tailored to local circumstances. The dicastery envisions enough flexibility to accommodate different capacities, allowing institutions to begin where they are and to move forward at their own pace.
The Platform will bring together the people, prayers, and actions of the universal Church in a single global framework that can be adapted and tailored to the needs of people around the world. Working through the power of the Holy Spirit, it will create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is anticipated to launch on May 24, 2021, with a larger initiative undertaken at the conclusion of the Season of Creation, October 4, 2021, the Feast of St. Francis.
As you consider how to participate, we offer the following resources:
- Vatican Overview of the Laudato Si’ Year and Platform (Please note that some of the original plans have been revised since publication for the ongoing Laudato Si’ year; this includes the groupings in the seven sectors)
- Laudato Si’ Goals and a graphic
- Recorded webinars:
- Sowing Hope for the Planet: Roll Out Plan for Laudato Si’ (Dec. 14, 2020) with Sheila Kinsey, FCJM, executive co-secretary for the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, a project of UISG/USG.
- Realizing the Vision of Laudato Si (Jan. 21, 2021); includes an explanation of the vision of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform by Fr. Joshtrum Kureethadam of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development.