The Vatican announced that it will commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment with a yearlong series of initiatives dedicated to the safeguarding and care for the Earth.
In a statement released by the Vatican press office May 16, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced a "Special Laudato Si' Anniversary Year" from May 24, 2020, to May 24, 2021, which will emphasize "ecological conversion in action."
As the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the dicastery said, the encyclical's message is "just as prophetic today as it was in 2015."
"Truly, COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we begin to envision a post-COVID world, we need above all an integral approach as everything is closely interrelated and today's problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis," the statement said.
Among the events set to take place throughout the year are prayer services and webinars dedicated to environmental care, education and the economy. The dicastery also detailed the rollout of a "seven-year journey toward integral ecology" for families, dioceses, schools, universities, hospitals, businesses, farms and religious orders.
The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said that amid the current pandemic, "Laudato Si'" can "indeed provide the moral and spiritual compass for the journey to create a more caring, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world."
"We have, in fact, a unique opportunity to transform the present groaning and travail into the birth pangs of a new way of living together, bonded together in love, compassion and solidarity and a more harmonious relationship with the natural world, our common home," the dicastery's statement said.
"As Pope Francis reminds us," it said, "'all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.'"
Recalling the fifth anniversary of his encyclical after reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer May 17, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the message of "Laudato Si'" will encourage people to take upon themselves the shared responsibility of caring for the Earth.
"In these times of pandemic, in which we are more aware of the importance of caring for our common home, I hope that all our common reflection and commitment will help to create and strengthen constructive behaviors for the care of creation," the pope said.