The Vatican is once again trying to make climate action a key issue for Catholics, as it launches a program called the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, named after the Pope’s 2015 letter that framed protecting the environmental as a spiritual mandate. The new website calls on Catholics to eat less meat, take public transit and drive less, avoid single-use plastics and other wasteful habits, and take part in a “cultural revolution” to change how they interact with the natural environment and financial systems.
“Discerning a response to the ecological crisis is a profound act of care,” the website says. “The Laudato Si’ Goals guide our actions.... Their holistic approach acknowledges the planetary limits of all socio-economic systems and the human roots of the ecological crisis. They call for a spiritual and cultural revolution to realise integral ecology.”
Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church since 2013, has made environmental consciousness part of his mission for the church. (Many U.S. bishops, though, haven’t followed his lead. Some American conservatives have even called him a “fake Christian.”) This new platform contains an emotional plea for Catholics to embrace more sustainable lifestyles.
“Our Creator called the human family to be the steward of creation, but we have neglected that call. Our hotter, dirtier, deader planet is driving up the risk of suffering. The most vulnerable suffer above all,” the website says.
Among the listed goals of Laudato Si’ are:
- “the adoption of renewable energies and energy sufficiency measures, achieving carbon neutrality, protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture, and guaranteeing access to clean water for all.”
- “to promote eco-justice.... Actions could include projects to promote solidarity, with special attention given to vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, refugees, migrants, and children at risk, analysis and improvement of social systems, and social service programmes.”
- “ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity harmful to the planet and the people.”
The Church has supported several climate justice initiatives under Pope Francis. In 2020, 16 congregations of Dominican nuns collaborated with investment bank Morgan Stanley to create a more than $100 million “climate solutions fund” to support projects like energy efficient tech. Earlier this week, 10 Catholic groups outlined five moral standards for climate finance.
With over a billion Catholics worldwide, here’s hoping the Pope’s message lands on receptive ears.