Vatican to Mark 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si’ with Year-Long Celebration

Five years from Pope Francis’ signing of the document, the “encyclical appears ever more relevant,” according to a statement from the dicastery.

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican will on May 24 launch a year-long celebration of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato si’ to mark its fifth anniversary.

The “special Laudato si’ anniversary year” is an initiative of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and will include a wide range of events, starting with a global day of prayer and ending in the launch of multi-year sustainability action plans.

Five years from Pope Francis’ signing of the document, the “encyclical appears ever more relevant,” according to a statement from the dicastery.

It noted that the environmental encyclical’s anniversary also falls in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak, saying “Laudato si’s message is just as prophetic today as it was in 2015.”

“The encyclical can indeed provide the moral and spiritual compass for the journey to create a more caring, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world,” the Vatican department said.

The year will begin May 24, the day Laudato si’ was signed by Pope Francis, with a day of prayer for the earth and for humanity. A prayer was written for the occasion which people are being encouraged to say at noon anywhere in the world. 

The integral development dicastery has also organized events in the week leading up to the anniversary, including several talks with the Global Catholic Climate Movement over the videoconferencing software Zoom, for “Laudato si’ Week.”

“We hope that the anniversary year and the ensuing decade will indeed be a time of grace, a true Kairos experience and ‘Jubilee’ time for the Earth, and for humanity, and for all God’s creatures,” the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said.

The initiatives, undertaken in partnership with other groups, have “a clear emphasis on ‘ecological conversion’ in ‘action,’” it continued.

In June, according to a schedule released by the dicastery, a document on “operation guidelines” for Laudato si’ will be released.

Just a few of the other special projects to be launched throughout the year are the new annual Laudato si’ Awards, a documentary film on Laudato si’, a tree initiative, and a social media “Read the Bible Contest.”

In 2021 the dicastery will start institutions such as families, dioceses, schools, and universities on a seven-year program to work toward integral ecology through the lens of Laudato si’.

The goal of this program, as set out by the dicastery, is to respond in concrete ways to the cry of the earth and the poor, to promote ecological economics and awareness, and to adopt simpler lifestyles. 

Other planned events are a June 18 webinar, marking the encyclical’s release anniversary, as well as participation in the ecumenical “Season of Creation” month Sept. 4-Oct. 1.

The Vatican events, “Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance” and the “Economy of Francesco,” which were due to have taken place this spring and have been postponed to the fall, are now also classified under the anniversary year celebrations, according to the schedule.

In January 2021, the Vatican will host a roundtable on the World Economic Forum in Davos. There is also a proposal for a gathering of religious leaders in early spring 2021.

The year will conclude with a conference, the performance of a musical work, and the conferring of the first Laudato si’ awards.

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