What is Laudato Si’ Week?
Laudato Si’ Week began as a way to celebrate the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ world-changing papal encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home.”
Since then, the annual celebration has become a way for all Catholics to unite and rejoice in the progress we’ve made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life and to commit ourselves to further prayer and action for our common home.
This year, with the theme of “Listening and Journeying Together” Catholics on six continents will work on “bringing the human family together to protect our common home” (LS 13), which is the guiding Laudato Si’ quote for the weeklong celebration.
Catholics across the globe will unite their communities in action and learn more about how Laudato Si’ offers a blueprint on how to tackle the climate crisis. Globally, Catholics will come together as one family in prayer and action.
The launch of the encyclical Laudato Si’
The encyclical has helped the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics better understand that “everything is connected” and put millennia of Catholic teaching in the context of today’s ecological crisis and climate emergency.
Pope Francis finished writing Laudato Si’ on May 24, 2015, and one year later, thousands of Catholics united to celebrate the encyclical that had already spurred prayer and action for our common home.
The next Laudato Si’ Week took place in 2020. It was a week like no other.
Laudato Si’ Week 2020
In March 2020, Pope Francis invited Catholics to take part in the weeklong event that was to mark the fifth anniversary of the encyclical and help Catholics rejoice in bringing Laudato Si’ to life and caring for creation.
But by the time Laudato Si’ Week 2020 arrived in mid-May, the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down much of the world and forced billions to quarantine at home. Catholics, like the rest of the world, were forced to adapt.
Yet across the globe, hundreds of thousands of Catholics overcame countless obstacles to honor the anniversary of the encyclical and reflect on building a better world together.
A series of online workshops were led by global leaders, including the Prefect for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson; Paris climate agreement architect Christiana Figueras; Secretary of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffé; and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño.
The week inspired hundreds of thousands of more Catholics through media coverage from around the world, and in addition to the global workshops, hundreds of local actions gave the initiative meaning at the grassroots level.
To name only a handful of examples:
- In Bergamo, Italy, a city devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Bergamo invited its members to reflect on Laudato Si’ during the quarantine through online videos, a creative adaptation to the limits on social interaction.
- In Kenya, the head bishop of the East African Episcopal Conference planted a tree in a public garden, standing in solidarity with people across the region who have suffered from unseasonal flooding and the historic locust outbreak, both made more likely by the climate crisis.
- In Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and dozens of other countries, thousands of Catholics participated in locally organized webinars to reflect on how to bring Laudato Si’ to life in their communities and countries.
- In the Philippines and throughout Asia, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences encouraged the faithful to find hope together by sending WhatsApp messages about Pope Francis’ encyclical and Laudato Si’ Week.
The pandemic has made it all too clear how “everything is connected,” one of the encyclical’s most transformational messages and the theme of Laudato Si’ Week 2020.
Laudato Si’ Week 2021
The weeklong event encouraged the faithful to celebrate the great strides the global Church has made in its ecological conversion journey during the past six years and offered a clear road map for the decade ahead.
A brief sampling of how Catholics united, took action, and brought Laudato Si’ to life:
- A joyful Laudato Si’ cultural festival “Songs for Creation” was broadcast live from Rome and brought together thousands to give glory to God through art.
- In Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Australia, the USA, Mexico, TImor Leste, Vietnam, and elsewhere, Catholics came together online and in-person to share ways they’re living Laudato Si’ and to inspire each other to do more for creation.
- In South Korea and the Philippines, weeklong programs were carried out that led Catholics to celebrate Laudato Si’ Masses, accelerate climate justice efforts, and participate in climate strikes.
- As a global community, thousands of Catholics actively participated in moving dialogues that showcased how institutions are changing education through Laudato Si’, the urgent need for all to divest from fossil fuels, and how the faithful can advocate for God’s creation locally and internationally.
- On Pentecost Sunday, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle led a global prayer gathering/missionary send-off that called on all Catholics to begin anew our efforts to spread the Gospel of Creation to every corner of the globe.
- The incredible week closed with the launch of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which will guide this work in the decade ahead.
The theme for Laudato Si’ Week 2021 was, “for we know that things can change” (LS 13).