The Laudato Si’ Animators UK group share an overview of what they and the Laudato Si’ Movement is all about. Read on to find out more!
Laudato Si’ Animators UK
“In union with all creatures, we journey through this land seeking God” (LS 244).
Laudato Si’ Animators UK is a group of people, mainly Catholics, who have graduated from the Laudato Si’ Movement (previously known as Global Catholic Climate Movement)’s Laudato Si’ Animators online Course, which was set up to educate and enable people to inspire others, in parishes, schools and in the world at large, to engage in dialogue and action on the current environmental crisis.
Laudato Si’ Movement
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217).
Laudato Si’ Movement (LSM) aims to activate the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to tackle the climate crisis. The online Course is one of the ways it does this, as the Course aims to educate and empower people to bring Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Encyclical to life.
The Animators’ Course
“…public pressure has to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action” (LS 179).
In July 2020 the first Laudato Si’ Animators Course opened to a world-wide audience of potential activists. The Course teaches how the Laudato Si’ (LS) Encyclical fits into Catholic Social Teaching, describes the causes and consequences of climate change and encourages a personal ecological conversion.
The Course requirements include weekly readings including chapters from the LS Encyclical, reflective prayers, discussions, videos to watch, webinars to attend and some homework such as writing reflections. A wide range of resources is available to watch and read during the Course, which takes around 3-4 hours each week, though greater engagement is possible if desired, less if necessary.
The course is ongoing, with the next one starting on 20th April 2022.
“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it” (LS 23).
Published 18-06-2015, Pope Francis’ Encyclical is about humankind’s degradation of the planet, with sub themes being our abuse of animals and disregard for poor communities. In the Encyclical, the Pope calls for dialogue and action concerning the care of what he calls “our common home”, and he urges all of us to take our duty to the natural environment, to animals and to poor people seriously.
Before Laudato Si’, the Catholic Church’s perception of the environment was very different. The natural environment and the animals it contained were not considered important enough to bring into our Catholic consciousness. Often during past decades, people who were concerned about animals and their habitats had been made to feel wrong when they brought those concerns to members of the clergy – priests and bishops. Thus they were made to feel marginalised.
The Encyclical has made a big difference. Priests and bishops now have to encompass our duty concerning wildlife and the environment in their deliberations, which is bound to be a culture shock given that they were allowed to ignore these issues before.
Now, the Vatican’s Guidance Notes on the Encyclical propose that “After Laudato Si’, the regular practice of an examination of conscience, the means that the Church has always recommended to orient one’s life in light of the relationship with the Lord, should include a new dimension, considering not only how one has lived communion with God, with others and with oneself, but also with all creatures and with nature.”
The Animators’ Network
“We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world” (LS 212).
After the Course, some of the UK graduates emailed each other, and decided to get together for mutual support, discussions, ideas and actions. John Woodhouse took on the role of Convenor, and thus Laudato Si’ Animators UK was launched. We have a Facebook page and are featured on LSM’s website.
We meet twice a month, once in the afternoon and once in the evening to better accommodate people. Some of us had become ecologically converted before the Encyclical, but most were inspired to bring about this change in our hearts and lives because of the Encyclical and the Course.
We have a Network of around 90 Animators and green activists, covering the 22 Dioceses of England and Wales. Our aim? Simply to spread the message of the Encyclical throughout the Catholic Church, in an effort to educate about the environmental crisis and to inspire action which will help to combat the dire situation.
Each diocese has an Animator representative, who links with other activists and connections in his/her diocese. Thus resources, ideas and support can be shared with other like-minded people in the diocese. This Network is helpful in publicising our articles in the various diocesan outlets – we’ve written many articles, and had lots of them published with the help of this Network.
“Disinterested concern for others…attune us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us” (LS 208).
After the Animators had been meeting for about 10 months, we took stock of our individual progress. We did this by thinking about what were our priorities and how we had changed to embrace them.
There were about 40 of us at the time, and 16 responded. The main priorities mentioned were: discussing the issues and raising awareness; reducing meat consumption; lobbying and campaigning; praying more; driving less, more walking and cycling; green energy and energy efficiency; changing shopping habits e.g. buying organic, local and eco-friendly; eco-conversion; mending and re-using. There were other priorities put forward as well. There was no doubt that the Animators had responded to the crisis and made a commitment to the Encyclical’s message about the need for change.
“Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes” (LS 92).
We are deeply appreciative of the many other Catholic, Christian and secular organisations which campaign for environmental justice, and we link up whenever we need to. Organisations like Cafod’s Live Simply; Justice and Peace groups; Greenfaith; our Alma Mater Laudato Si’ Movement; diocesan websites; Environmental Leads (who are appointed by the bishop to promote environmental issues in the diocese); Greenpeace, and so on.
Laudato Si’ Circles and Groups
“(to live simply) is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full” (LS 223).
Some Animators, responding to the Encyclical’s call for action and dialogue, have set up Laudato Si’ Circles or Laudato Si’ Groups in their parish. The groups meet regularly, usually once or twice a month with zoom or in person, and include prayer and reflection during the meetings. They are very active, joining campaigns, signing petitions, posting items in their parish Newsletters, giving talks, organising Season of Creation events and helping their parish to become more ecologically friendly in many ways. And they have impressive plans for future actions, such as installing bike racks and solar panels, creating organic LS gardens, training for presentations, producing literature, and joining with local schools for various actions. Some Animators are part of Live Simply parish groups, which are a Cafod initiative similar to Laudato Si’ groups.
Laudato Si’ Action Platform
“Our goal is…to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it” (LS 19).
The Laudato Si’ Action Platform has been established by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in response to the Encyclical. It is designed to run for 7 years, has 7 general goals, and encompasses 7 Sectors.
The 7 Sectors are: Families – all families and individuals; Parishes and Dioceses – parishes, dioceses, archdioceses and episcopal conferences; Educational Institutions – primary and secondary schools, universities, and other centres of education; Healthcare & Healing – hospitals, clinics, centres of healing and other healthcare services; Organisations and groups – Lay movements, communities, NGOs, foundations and communication centres; Economic Sector – Workers and businesses, farms and co-operatives; Religious – religious orders, provinces and communities.
The 7 Goals are designed to guide our actions. They call for a revolution in our lifestyles and attitudes. Their general headings are: Response to the cry of the earth; Response to the cry of the poor; Ecological economics; Adoption of sustainable lifestyles; Ecological education; Ecological spirituality; Community engagement and participatory action.
Under each general heading, actions are suggested for you to consider. For example, under ‘Adoption of sustainable lifestyles’ you will find “Actions could include reducing waste and recycling, adopting sustainable dietary habits (opting for a more plant-based diet and reducing meat consumption), greater use of public transport, active mobility (walking, cycling), and avoiding single use items (eg plastic, etc.).”
“The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now” (LS 161).
Our Network of Animators, a pool of green activists in every diocese, has the possibility of transforming the Church so that from the grass roots upwards the Church will present a serious commitment to the urgent, revolutionary changes that are needed if our planet is to survive the crisis.
Laudato Si’ Animators UK: Contact John Woodhouse: [email protected]
Laudato Si’ Animators UK: FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LSIUK
Laudato Si’ Movement: https://laudatosimovement.org/
Laudato Si’ Action Platform website: www.laudatosiactionplatform.org
Form to register for the LS Action Platform: https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/pledge-your-commitment/
Questions about the LS Action Platform: [email protected]
LS Animators UK 1593 Words April 2022