Five years after the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter on the “care for our common home”, representatives of European Bishops’ Conferences, as well as Catholic organisations and movements, held in Brussels the Third European Laudato Si’ Reflection Day on Thursday 28 May 2020. Leading economist Mariana Mazzucato, the Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican Monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffé and members of the European Parliament, Patrizia Toia (S&D) and Lukas Mandl (EPP) took part in a compelling and timely discussion.
Due to the current restrictions, the gathering took the form of a webinar with more than 400 participants from different countries who actively participated in the exchange. The webinar was also part of the wider “Laudato Si’ Week” celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’.
In these exceptional times, and in the aftermath of the announcement by the European Commission of a proposal on the COVID-19 post-pandemic recovery plan (see the COMECE contribution), the webinar provoked an exchange on the urgent need to address the current health crisis and build plans for a just and sustainable recovery reflecting on some key questions.
Will Europe manage to implement the shifts needed in its economic system? Can we recover in Europe without hurting the rest of the planet? How do we heal all together leaving no one behind?
Among the many inspiring points raised by the speakers was the issue of public investments. Prof Mazzucato said: “Times of crisis need not only public investment but a direction for that investment. And that direction today must be both inclusive and sustainable”.
She also highlighted the issue of participation, and of bringing all key actors ex-ante together to discuss the recovery by saying: “We will need all voices at the table: unions, youth – to design the mission for a just transition.”
Monsignor Duffé also referred to the key point of common and individual responsibility to tackle the crisis: “Reading again Laudato Si’, we realise that everyone has a part of the responsibility. Instead, many actors are denying it” – Mgr Duffe’ also said: “We experience our vulnerability, physical but also economic and of our public politics. […] We have to think about the world after the pandemic: what could this world be?”
Both Lukas Mandl and Patrizia Toia, coming from different political groups, stressed in their concluding remarks the importance to keep supporting EU solidarity and long-term efforts – such as the European Green Deal – even and especially in times of crises, stressing its correlation not only to the environment but also to social issues.
Through this webinar again the Laudato Si’ messages proved to be hugely relevant in this time of crisis and able to orient the political debate towards increased environmental and social justice.
Organisers of the event
European Laudato Sì Alliance (ELSiA) is a group of Catholic organisations that are joining forces in Europe to promote climate and social justice, highly inspired by the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of Pope Francis. This alliance brings together: COMECE – Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU; JESC – Jesuit European Social Centre; CIDSE – International family of Catholic social justice organisations; GCCM – Global Catholic Climate Movement; Justice and Peace Europe; and CCEE – Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (observer member).