The guide, available as a 20-page printed booklet and online at sei.org/ourcommonhome/, in five languages, covers climate change, biodiversity, water, food production, air pollution, sustainable consumption, and links between sustainability and social justice. For each topic, it provides brief summaries of scientific research on key topics, a clear outline of what needs to change, and ways to take action. Quotations from Laudato si’ introduce each section, and the Pope’s “prayer for our earth” from the Encyclical accompanies the conclusion.
This is SEI’s first-ever collaboration with the Dicastery, but Executive Director Måns Nilsson said the project fits well with SEI’s mission to bridge science and policy to advance sustainability.
“In all we do at SEI, we have a dual mission to produce robust, trustworthy science, and communicate the results so they are clear, compelling and actionable,” he said. “Robust evidence is as crucial as ever, but what drives people’s actions is their values, and their sense of their place in the world. By combining our organizations’ respective strengths, we have produced a booklet that I believe will be very compelling and useful to readers. At a time when many people feel hopeless, like they can’t possibly make a difference, this guide shows they can – both individually, and by advocating collectively for systemic change.”
The project was initiated in 2020 by the Swedish Ambassador to the Holy See at the time, who saw an opportunity for SEI and the Dicastery to work together on sustainability education. SEI contributed its scientific and communications expertise, while the Dicastery incorporated messages from the Catholic faith to inspire reflection and action among individuals, faith-based groups and communities.
The guide, which includes beautiful photography and original graphics, is available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The Dicastery is distributing more than 500 000 print copies of the booklet to parishes around the world, and SEI and the Dicastery are working together to promote the project online and highlight the changes that it inspires.
“We are at a critical historical moment where actions today will determine the fate of generations to come,” said Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery. “The challenge ahead is monumental; we need nothing short of a ‘bold cultural revolution’ (Laudato si’ 114) to respond to it adequately. For this reason, the guidebook we offer today to local churches and community groups represents an important and hopeful collaboration between two great sectors: that of science, and that of faith. While starting from complementary worldviews, what we hold in common is what matters – science and faith share core values and purpose capable of healing the world.”
Individuals and groups inspired by the guide can find a global community on the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, an online hub run by the Dicastery that brings together Catholics who have mobilized to tackle ecological challenges, in line with the Pope’s call to action. The Dicastery has already begun to gather stories from Catholics around the world who plan to use the guide.
The guide was officially launched at a virtual event on 14 February, with Andrés Jato, Sweden’s current Ambassador to the Holy See, among the speakers.
“The value of collaborating with the Holy See on global issues is, I believe, sometimes overlooked, especially in the non-Catholic world,” he said. “This project clearly illustrates the importance of engaging with an actor that has an unprecedented ability to connect to people’s hearts and minds and that has a global infrastructure that allows it to reach out to every corner in the world. The Holy See is a force for positive change, in a stage of history when change is needed more than ever. Sweden is proud to have taken an active part in this collaboration and we will continue to look for opportunities to cooperate with the Holy See.”