By Filipe Domingues
VATICAN CITY — A two-day international conference, held in the Vatican July 5-6, celebrated the third anniversary Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’.”
In a private audience with event participants July 6, he warned of the “real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse.”
In his address, the pope stressed that the scientific community has increasing evidence of the urgency of changing development processes.
“The planet needs to be repaired, and a sustainable future guaranteed,” he said. He cited paragraph 161 of his encyclical, which states that “the pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.”
“Laudato Si’” played a crucial role at the time of its launch, in May 2015, in influencing the international debate on global warming and environmental protection that resulted in the Paris Agreement. In the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 195 countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. A follow-up conference in Katowice, Poland, this December is expected to review, modify and renew the agreement.
The pope said the Katowice conference “could prove a milestone on the path set out by the 2015 Paris Agreement.”
“All governments should strive to honour the commitments made in Paris, in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” he said.
In his opening remarks for the “Laudato Si’” conference, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said "we all know of the precarious situation of our planet today.”
He described the encyclical as “a timely response to one of the most urgent challenges facing humanity today, namely the possible collapse of the home that sustains us and all forms of life.”
In addition to environmental and climate change experts, the conference included young people who are preparing for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the theme, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Several of these young people came from parts of the world that suffer from environmental degradation, such as the Pacific islands and the Amazon.
Delio Siticonatzi, who belongs to the Ashaninca indigenous people in Peru, said “Laudato Si’” “helps us to follow the ancestral values ??we inherit and encourages us to write ourselves a story of struggle and hope.”
According to Siticonatzi, who represented the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network at the conference, “the church in the Amazon is our companion on our journey, in our formation, and in our autochthonous development and protection of our lands. We are part of the church, but with an Amazonian face.”
Caption: The conference organized to mark the third anniversary of “Laudato Si’” included a panel of young people from different continents. From left to right: Macson Almeida of the Don Bosco Green Alliance in India, representing Asia; Delio Siticonatzi of the Ashaninca People in Peru for REPAM, representing the Americas; Allen Ottaro of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Kenya, representing Africa; Msgr. Bruno Marie Duffé, secretary of the dicastery; Cardinal Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Peter Turkson; CNN journalist Delia Gallagher; and Laura Menendez of Manos Unidas, representing Europe. (Photo: Filipe Domingues)