Archdiocese committed to seven-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform
BY MELISSA VLACH
“Today I am pleased to announce that the ‘Laudato Si’’ year will result in a concrete action project, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year journey that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology.”
Pope Francis included these words in his video message marking the launch of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a new global campaign to bring the message of his 2015 encyclical more fully into the lives of the faithful.
The action platform officially launched worldwide on Nov. 14, 2021. The campaign’s organizers plan to release additional resources in 2022 for the global community. Meanwhile, organizations including dioceses have presented their plans for taking part in their local communities.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco is joining in this effort, with Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone issuing a statement inviting everyone to participate.
“To this end, I invite you all to better educate yourselves on the changes we need to make in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while prioritizing the needs of the vulnerable in the face of this climate crisis,” San Francisco’s archbishop wrote. “Let us also encourage the nation’s leaders to protect our common home, showing them that these issues are important to our faith communities.”
Since officially launching in mid-November, individuals from across the Archdiocese have been signing up to participate in the action platform, giving diverse reasons for wanting to take part in the effort.
“I feel an urgency to act on behalf of creation as ‘Laudato Si’’ calls each of us to hear the cry of the earth and of the poor. The platform will provide opportunities to raise awareness of these issues and help people to gather forces to bring positive changes to the way we act out our faith,” said one participant.
Some have noted that they are already involved in their parish efforts and would like to continue, while others shared that they have not been part of “Laudato Si’” programs in the past.
“I don’t currently have any ideas for putting the platform into action, as thinking about sustainability is new for me!” stated another participant.
The Archdiocese plans to use the platform as a way to share individual ideas for action, as well as a place to offer resources. Signing up will add a person to the email list, so that he or she stays informed about news and events as they happen. The website is also available in Spanish.
The first resource sent out to participants was a Laudato Si’ Action Platform guide, offering suggestions for actions that fall within the seven goals of the program: response to the cry of the earth, response to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, adoption of sustainable lifestyles, ecological education, ecological spirituality, and community resilience and empowerment.
The actions range from very simple, like using a clothesline to dry clothes, to more advanced, such as updating buildings to be environmentally friendly. Some can be done by individuals, while others are more fitting for groups such as parishes and schools.
The ideas are just that, and the way this plan is implemented will look different for each person and organization. They are also a starting point. The creativity of individuals will play a major role in bringing this message to life.
Although the Laudato Si’ Action Platform itself is new, many throughout the Archdiocese have been active in this area since the encyclical “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home” was published in 2015. This encyclical was the first to focus specifically on environmental issues, building on the Church’s previous social teachings on the subject. In it, Pope Francis described the challenges humanity is facing and the unique call of the Catholic faith to respond. Parishes responded to this call with enthusiasm. They built green teams that were focused on environmental issues, held “Laudato Si’” study groups, increased recycling efforts, took part in letter-writing campaigns and more. There have also been infrastructure efforts throughout the facilities of the Archdiocese, such as the switch to LED lighting, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and the creation of systems to catch storm runoff.
Giving the keynote address at a 2016 Green Team workshop, Archbishop Cordileone spoke of care for creation as a concept that crosses ideological lines. “I really believe that this is a cause that can unite us all, no matter where you are on the political spectrum or the Church spectrum, whether you are the type that’s always on the lookout for the latest insight and ready to run with the latest development in Church teaching or if you’re more of an old-fashioned type,” he said. He explained that many of the values of thriftiness taught by earlier generations, particularly those who lived through the Great Depression, align well with the message of “Laudato Si’.”
For this reason, the solutions to the current problems sometimes have as much to do with looking back to past traditions as they do to looking forward to future innovations. It requires a process of discernment, evaluating how actions impact others and align with the teachings of the faith.
The Laudato Si Action Platform is a way to bring individual efforts into a community in order to inspire greater change, a way to build on the work that is already being done and spark new ideas. Everyone is encouraged to take part, no matter what aspects they bring into their own lives or how involved they have been with “Laudato Si’” efforts in the past. As Pope Francis wrote, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents” (LS 14).
To sign up to participate in the Archdiocese of San Francisco Laudato Si Action Platform, visit sfarch.org/laudato-si-action-platform. ■
Melissa Vlach is the Social Justice Coordinator Office of Human Life & Dignity