By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Commemorating the fifth anniversary of his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis called on Christians to join in prayer and acts of care for the Earth and for the poor.
After reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer May 24, the pope encouraged Catholics to participate in the celebration of the "Special Laudato Si' Anniversary Year," a yearlong series of initiatives dedicated to putting the encyclical's teaching into action.
"I invite all people of goodwill to join, to take care of our common home and of our most fragile brothers and sisters," he said.
According to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the yearlong celebration from May 24, 2020, to May 24, 2021, will emphasize "ecological conversion in action" through a series of events dedicated to environmental care, education and the economy.
The pope also said that "it would be beautiful" for Catholics to recite the prayer dedicated to the anniversary celebration of the encyclical.
The prayer, which is available on the dicastery's "Laudato Si' Week" website, asks God to "be present to those in need in these trying times, especially the poorest and those most at risk of being left behind."
"Help us to show creative solidarity in addressing the consequences of this global pandemic. Make us courageous to embrace the changes that are needed in search of the common good," the prayer states.
In a statement released by the Vatican press office May 16, 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.
Among the events is the ecumenical "Season of Creation" initiative, which runs from the Sept. 1 Day of Prayer for Creation through the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4.
The initiative, explained at www.seasonofcreation.org, is "an annual celebration of prayer and action to protect creation" that will include an online prayer service, a webinar and conferences.
In a May 25 statement announcing the initiative, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, "the Season of Creation is especially relevant this year."
The dicastery, it said, "is currently engaged in work to develop a comprehensive response to the pandemic, addressing both the immediate needs of those who suffer today and the long-term need to create more just societies."
Throughout the anniversary year, Catholic dioceses, schools and institutions also will be encouraged to implement the use of clean renewable energy, as well as the sober use of resources and energy and updating educational curriculum "to create ecological awareness and action, promoting the ecological vocation of young people, teachers and leaders of education."
The dicastery also instituted the "Laudato Si' Awards," which will recognize individuals, educational institutions, dioceses and parishes for their efforts in encouraging and promoting the care of the environment.