Mercy Global Concern

Report: International Conference on the 3rd Anniversary of Laudato Si, Vatican City, 5-6th July, 2018

Reports: July 16, 2018

Theme: Saving Our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth

Highlights of the Conference.....

It is impossible to do justice to a report of this conference, with its rich variety of speakers, 35 in total and the valuable networking it facilitated. What follows is an overview and some significant moments that combined, served as a clarion call to action!

Walking through the Sant’Uffizio gate that leads into Vatican City, was an exciting moment! A Swiss Guard in his colourful, ancient uniform directed us towards St. Paul V1 Conference Hall, the venue for the ‘International Laudato Si Conference’. By chance the first person I met was Susan Smith Makos, from Mercy Investment Services (MIS) in the USA. The conference held in the Synod Room, opened with Italian children singing a delightful song with actions and symbols reflecting the cosmos and main themes from Laudato Si.

Denise Boyle fmdm at question time
during session

Image: Youtube screengrab


Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DSSUI) who hosted the conference, in conjunction with the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) welcomed us. He took us back three years to the actual launch of Laudato Si, the landmark encyclical of Pope Francis on Care for Our Common Home.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State officially opened the conference. Referring to the impact of Laudato Si he referenced the four goals of the Conference:
1. Raise ambitions to protect the ‘1.5C guardrail’ cited by scientists as critical.
2. Transition towards the ‘circular economy’ mirroring nature, to minimise waste.
3. Work for greater involvement of all faith communities to ensure survival of Earth.
4. Empower greater participation by peoples from every nationality.

These issues were discussed in the context of assessing the impact of Laudato Si (LS), to envisage through concrete proposals, the journey towards its full implementation.

Voice of the Youth: A panel of young people from different continents challenged us with their enthusiasm, spirit of adventure and honesty. Throughout the conference the youth spoke to the urgency of addressing the critical concerns in the context of all life now!

Speakers: These included an excellent range of Cardinals, Scientists, Activists, Eco-warriors, Indigenous People, Youth and Representatives from NGOs or Not for Profits.

DAY ONE: Session 1: Where Are We? Listening to the Cry of Earth and Cry of the Poor... A panel of experts addressed this question through the lens of:
- ‘The upcoming COP24’ meeting that will be held in Poland in December.
- ‘Climate Change - A Last Call for the Planet’
- ‘Global Stocktake – How is the Paris Agreement Going?’
- ‘Integral Ecology – How Ecological Degradation is Affecting the Poorest?’

Denise Boyle fmdm is second from left in first row shown. Image: Youtube screen grab

In the early afternoon on both days parallel events gave participants the opportunity to join interest groups and to discuss ideas with specialists and colleagues from across the globe.

Session II: Where Do We Want to Go? Discerning the Crisis of Our Common Home Three Speakers responded to this question from the perspective of:
- ‘The Natural World as the Gospel (Good News) of Creation’
- ‘The Economic Reasons to Act and to Act Immediately!’
- ‘Integral Ecology for Integral Human Flourishing.’
The stories, information and facts we heard plus the escalating number of climate refugees, left no one in doubt that we are approaching the point of ’no return’ unless we act now!

Excitingly the day began with an audience with Pope Francis, despite the fact he was on holiday. Francis gave us an excellent address on Laudato Si; this extract reflects his concern and hope:
“... I thank all of you for coming together to “hear with your hearts” the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor, who look for our help and concern. You have also gathered to testify to the urgent need to respond to the Encyclical’s call for change, for an ecological conversion. Your presence here is the sign of your commitment to take concrete steps to save the planet and the life it sustains... (Pope Francis July 6th, 2018)

To our delight, Francis then greeted each one of the nearly 400 participants! Later Cardinal Turkson shared the Pope told him doing this is for him a sacramental moment, as he knows how far some people travelled to be here and what it means to him, to greet each one!

Session 111: How to Inspire a Massive Movement for the Care of Our Common Home? Acting Together to Save the Earth; during this session the topics addressed were:
- ‘Eco-Justice: Responding to the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor in the Light of Catholic Social Teaching.
- ‘Global Ecological Conversion: Building a Massive Movement to Protect Our Common Home’
- ‘Sustainable Economy: Time for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for our Common Home’

There was a strong call for the Vatican to divest from all companies engaged with fossil fuels, as a concrete outcome from the conference and to show the Church’s commitment!

The Outcome Document: The action points from the discussion groups will be collated into the final report from the conference. Looking ahead, important events to highlight that will urge action on address the critical and urgent cries of Earth and the Poor include:

1) Season of Creation, September 1st – October 4th; 2) Synod on Youth and Synod on the Amazon, October 2018 and October 2019 in Vatican City; 3) Global Climate Action Summit, September, San Francisco, USA with the theme: Climate Change and Civil Society; 4) COP24 in Poland, December with the theme: Politics and Advocacy.

A final memory: A quote from an eco-warrior from the Pacific Islands who because of sea levels rising, may have to evacuate his island home soon pleaded: “Remember my story and the human faces of Climate Change you met here...”

Denise Boyle fmdm
12 July 2018

Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm - Team Leader Mercy Global Action

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