Camaraderie glowed from the Zoom screen on Saturday, May 27, as The Letter’s protagonists reunited under the question “Where do we go from here?” amid all the festivities of Laudato Si’ Week.
The event was attended by people from as far away as Mexico and Kuwait, including independent screening organizers of the film, movie fans, and other environmental activists.
The reunion’s conversation was moderated by Dr. Lorna Gold, chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement board and friend to each of the protagonists since their shared meeting with Pope Francis in Rome and continued bonding in Assisi.
Although the reunion offered an opportunity to reminisce, its programmatic focus was on the planet’s future. “I assure you of my prayers that the work that you have done with The Letter and the work that will continue will flourish,” said Msgr. Anthony Onyemuche Ekpo, Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development during a brief intermission. “We are in this all together to protect our common home.”
Greg Asner, a scientist designated voice of the wildlife alongside his spouse and colleague Robin Martin, said “this voice is getting louder, but our pace is too slow” in response to Lorna’s question on the status of coral reefs today. Asner emphasized a shift in their field from diagnosing the decline of coral reefs to directly intervening in that decline.
Chief Dadá Borari, an indigenous leader from Pará, Brazil designated as voice of the indigenous in The Letter, spoke highly of the film’s popular reception throughout Brazil while continuing to receive threats and vandalism from the logging industry.
“I’m trying to get police protection again,” Borari said. Underdeterred in his conviction, however, he declared “as long as we are united, Pope Francis can count on me that we are among those who have a good heart.”
Arouna Kandé, whose story of poverty amid rising sea-levels and climate migration in Senegal broke the hearts of many viewers of the film, shared that since filming he’s led conversations on the climate crisis across different faith traditions in Senegal.
And Ridhima Pandey, who began her environmental activism at the age of 11, said the film has exposed her to different conversations around the climate crisis, particularly with Catholic communities in her home country of India.
In reflecting on their call to action for all who have seen The Letter, all the protagonists emphasized the need to move from personal interests to shared responsibility for the climate crisis.
“Start with your neighbor. Start with your friend. Start with your brother and keep passing the word on. You can make your own change that will help the bigger change,” Robin Martin encouraged.
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