Our Bishops have already met their first action commitment from the Social Justice Statement Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor – the Office for Social Justice has the new name the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace. As they explain in the Statement, this “better reflects contemporary Catholic Social Teaching, especially the teachings of Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti on integral ecology and peace”. The two remaining action commitments will shape the work of the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace for the next seven years as we journey towards the Laudato Si’ Goals.
We have received several messages warmly welcoming our new name. It has been seen as an act of teaching because it communicates that concern for creation, integral human development, and peace are inseparable in Catholic Social Teaching. This action is more than symbolic because it elevates the visibility of integral ecology as a faith commitment at a time when the planet is facing a ‘code red’ situation, as the IPCC have described it – it is an action and a call to action. It also indicates a development in the focus of the work of the Office.
The second action commitment that our Bishops made in the Statement is to embark on a seven-year journey towards the Laudato Si’ Goals articulated by the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. In fact, they have already submitted their expression of interest in formally signing up for the journey via the Platform website. Officials of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development tell me that they are the first Bishops Conference to do so. Individuals, families, parishes, dioceses, educational, health and other organisations, and even businesses, can also make a commitment to working towards the Laudato Si’ Goals via the Platform. At the launch of the Platform, Pope Francis invited ‘everyone’ to ‘tackle this journey together’.
The first stage of the journey will involve establishing the Bishops Conference’s baseline in relation to each of the Laudato Si’ Goals and developing a Laudato Si’ Action Plan for achieving them over the following six years. The Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace will be responsible for leading this initiative. One element of the ACBC Laudato Si’ Action Plan has already been decided on. It is the third action commitment announced in the Statement.
Laudato Si’ Week was first celebrated in 2016. Observed from 16-24 May, it marked the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato Si’. It was again celebrated internationally at the beginning of the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year in 2020 and at its conclusion in 2021. The Special Anniversary Year marked the fifth anniversary of the encyclical. Our Bishops have committed to celebrating Laudato Si’ Week in Australia in each year of their journey towards the Laudato Si’ Goals. The Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace will produce prayer and reflection materials for the celebration of Laudato Si’ Week each year. It will be one of the ways in which we work towards the goal of ecological spirituality.
The Statement Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, together with the launch video and associated resources are now available for download from our website. We’ve just added two new prayer services on the Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor and on Wonder and Awe. There is a leader’s sheet and PowerPoint presentation for each of these services, and the presentation includes embedded music. Continuing to promote and unpack the Statement will be another way in which we encourage and support ecological spirituality. Look out for more personal reflection videos from our Bishops over the coming weeks!
Over the months and years to come, establishing and implementing the Bishops Conference Laudato Si’ Action Plan will be a key focus of the work of the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace. We hope that you will join us on this journey.
Dr Sandie Cornish
Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace