International climate campaigner Bill McKibben said that the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum shows that “the engagement of religious leaders may be the best chance we have” to confront the climate crisis.
He welcomed the follow-up to Laudato Si’ while speaking at an online event organised by the Laudato Si’ Movement on the day of its publication. More than 12,000 people from around the world logged in live across multiple platforms.
The event featured a number of speakers specialising in climate science, policy and theology, as well as activists who applauded the document.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, noted the emphasis in Laudate Deum on multilateralism ahead of the COP28 climate conference in December. “Keep working together and move away from fossil fuels,” he said.
Franciscan Fr Daniel P Horan, a theologian and director of the Centre for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, said Catholics – including Church leaders – should remember that Laudato Si and Laudate Deum are part of the Church’s moral teaching. He encouraged parishes to share the Pope’s teachings and reduce their carbon footprint.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomed the new document, saying that times of “great fractures of the world” offered “a moment of unique challenge for all humanity.”
Ridhima Pandey, an Indian activist who appeared in the Laudato Si’ film The Letter, said the new document would inspire people “to take action on the climate crisis and biodiversity.”
The Vatican also held a gathering in Rome on 4 October to welcome Laudate Deum, inviting a variety of responses from the “people of goodwill” to whom the exhortation is addressed.
Giorgio Parisi, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2021, said it may seem strange to see so much scientific evidence in a papal document, but the Pope said he felt “obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church”.
Vandana Shiva, an Indian scientist and environmental activist, spoke via video link: “The same system that is leading to greenhouse gas emissions is also leading to hunger and chronic diseases because we are connected, and the health of the planet and our health is one health.”
She said that “the solutions are in front of us – caring for the Earth and caring for each other.”
Luisa-Marie Neubauer, leader of the “Fridays for Future” movement in Germany, which calls on policymakers to listen to climate scientists, said: “Governments everywhere are acting, it’s just that too many of them promote projects and investments in expanded fossil fuel exploration and extraction.”
She warned against an “escalating climate of repression and criminalisation” of non-violent actions by activists and welcomed Laudate Deum insistence that “civil society and climate activists must be protected”.
The Pope’s exhortation warned that “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point”. He condemned international inertia in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The new document is “timely” said Tomás Insua, co-founder and executive director of the Laudato Si’ Movement, which works through around 900 member organisations in 115 countries to foster a Catholic approach to the care of the environment.
Dan Misleh, founder of the Catholic Climate Covenant which works with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on ecological awareness and advocacy, said that Laudate Deum relies on “stark language” to convey the grave impact of global warming on weather and climate.
It speaks to people – among them Catholics – who reject scientific evidence supporting global warming, said Insua and Misleh.
Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Washington, the episcopal moderator for Catholic Climate Covenant, criticised “the lack of progress by our society, including our Church, in addressing this crisis”.
Bishop David M O’Connell of Trenton, New Jersey, predicted that some faithful would balk at Laudate Deum, and prayed that “the Holy Father’s vigilant attention to the threats to our common home – which fundamentally includes every human life – falls upon fertile ground, converting our hearts and inspiring us all to do whatever we can to make a positive difference.”
The Catholic Student Network in Northern Thailand is amongst grassroots Catholic groups internationally promising to read, reflect, and put into practice the exhortation Laudate Deum, according to its chaplain Fr Dzung Pham SJ.
Source : The Tablet