Putting Laudato Si’ into Practice

Russell Testa Features, Justice and Peace

The Church concluded the five-year anniversary celebration of the release of Laudato Si’ – Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical – with the launch on May 25 of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development. This is an appropriate time to focus on the message and goals of the encyclical and to implement them as Franciscans.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is an organizing website of actions to undertake on the path to living the call to integral ecology – and it’s also a way to build a global community in the process, a necessity given the challenges to live this life. Beyond that, it is an exciting opportunity to help us at multiple levels of our life: personally, fraternally, and within families and ministries, as well as globally, to take concrete actions to help us live the Gospel with ever greater authenticity. It is truly an opportunity for conversion. As such, we are not approaching it as just “one more program;” rather, it is a time of deep listening, discerning, and going forth in a way that does not add one more thing to do, but helps us to reinforce, evaluate and incorporate actions into our lives.

Action Platform Part of Unifying Effort
Recognizing that this type of transformation does not happen overnight, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a seven-year journey, providing the time to be deliberate and strategic as we make these efforts.

The U.S.-6 provincials have asked the leaders of the Revitalization and Restructuring Process to incorporate the Laudato Si’ Action Platform into the efforts of forming the new coast-to-coast province. The values of integral ecology and social connection present in Pope Francis’s two encyclicals – Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti – are considered core in the formation of the new province. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform presents the U.S.-6 with a tool to bring concrete reflection and action to these values.

During the recent local contacts mini-retreat, held by Zoom on June 8, HNP Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, remarked to the participants that because of Pope Francis and the times in which we live, we are in a “Franciscan moment” – a time that is longing for the Franciscan message to be shared. Kevin called the Laudato Si’ Action Platform “a gift, like all that is coming from Pope Francis, to live into this moment.”

The Laudato Si’ Goals: Hope for the Earth and the Poor. (Graphic courtesy of  the LSAP website)

Beginning the Journey on Oct. 4
The R & R Office is teaming up with the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation animators of the U.S.-6 to help facilitate the implementation of the platform – not as a new program, but as an opportunity to build from what is already being done and discern how best to transform our lives and the world.

In Holy Name Province, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, or LSAP, has been embraced by the JPIC Directorate and Office. A new working committee, the Social Analysis and Faith Reflection Group, is developing a tool to generate discussions this summer with our friaries and JPIC committees in our ministries to listen and to help determine plans for implementing the action platform.

It is hoped that the U.S.-6 provinces will be able to announce on Oct. 4 their public commitment to participate in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform over the next seven years. The announcement date is significant because it is the day the Vatican is inviting all entities of the Church to declare their participation. The “joining of the platform” is not a one-time event, but rather it marks the beginning of a journey. It is designed with great flexibility so that local friaries and ministries, as well as the entire province (and the new emerging province), can live into the Gospel values embodied in Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months. This is going to be an exciting journey.

Russ Testa is director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation based near Washington, D.C., and works with friars and the ministries around the Province to strengthen advocacy of social justice issues. He can be reached at jpic@hnp.org.

Editor’s note: Over the past six years, updates have been published in this newsletter about Laudato Si’. Some of the more recent articles are Laudato Si’ Revolution: Creating a Movement Toward Radical Change and Hope and Laudato Si’ and What Is Ours to Do.