(Vatican Radio) June 18th marks the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, focused on the care of our common home.
The document, presented at a high profile press conference in the Vatican, explores the interconnected concerns of caring for human life and protecting the environment, calling for action based on an interior ecological conversion.
Named after the words of St Francis in his Canticle of the Creatures, the encyclical asks what kind of world do we want to leave to our children and urges humanity to work together to solve the most pressing problems of inequality, injustice and environmental destruction.
One year on, numerous conferences and encounters are taking place to examine the impact of the encyclical and ask how it is changing hearts, minds and practical policies.
Among the interreligious organisations that have taken the Pope’s call to heart is the Jerusalem based Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development which works to promote peace and environmental awareness through education and action. The founder and director of the Centre, Rabbi Yonatan Neril, is in Rome this week meeting with Vatican officials to see how the papal document is being incorporated into seminary formation programmes.
He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the work of the Centre and its impact on interfaith relations.
Rabbi Neril talks about the impact of Laudato Si’ on the Jewish world and says these environmental issues can open up new possibilities of collaboration between the different faiths traditions..
He explains how the Centre tries to work with different religious communities in Jerusalem to promote greater ecological awareness.
Noting that an important part of the work of the Centre is to promote environmental courses in Catholic educational institutes, Rabbi Neril says some Catholic universities are already encouraging this but much more needs to be done..
Talking about the question of land ownership and resources management in Israel and Palestine which has been such a source of political conflict, Rabbi Neril says a new awareness of the need to protect our common home can bring people together across ethnic and religious divisions..
While few anticipated the encyclical would yield immediate, far-reaching changes, it produced some out-of-the-gate impacts. For one, Pope Francis placed environmental concern on the Catholic calendar by designating Sept. 1 as the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
National Catholic Reporter has a reader’s guide to Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, here.
Source (Vatican Radio)