Laudato Si’ – awareness raising while ‘social distancing’

Strength and stability are said to be among the qualities to celebrate at a fifth or ‘wood’ anniversary. In designating 2020 as the beginning of a ‘multi-year Laudato Si’ roll-out plan’, Pope Francis invites us to strengthen and stabilise our faith in a new way.  The subtitle ‘on care for our common home’, is not what is usually expected in a Vatican document- for many it is not ‘holy’ enough – in the conventional understanding of that word. While it is a long letter, comprising 246 paragraphs, the content is accessible and is written in an easy readily available style and a very worthwhile read.

In June 2020, an ad hoc ‘zoom’ group of 12 men and women formed in Belfast to read and share on Laudato Si’ -over a four-week period. This contemporary medium offered the opportunity for each participant to find a voice. It was an enriching and valuable experience for all concerned. Some had never heard of the document! Others knew about it but since its importance was not highlighted in Church it promptly left their memory. One participant commented: ‘I never thought I would enjoy reading a letter from a Pope! It is wonderful.’ It was indeed, for those four weeks, an enjoyable way of strengthening our faith. Further conversations were requested to build on new-found learning.

In order, to whet the appetite and generate discussion, four themes were selected that charted a personal journey through the document.  Paragraphs from Laudato Si’ were chosen to stimulate as many views as possible. Each week, one of the attached sheets was e-mailed to the participants in advance of our ‘zooming’ session. Lockdown caused by coronavirus has very few, if any, valuable impacts- but this venture was very worthwhile and could serve as a model for other interested groups.

The four themes