This morning, in the New Hall of the Synod, primary-school and six-grade children of Nomadelfia inaugurated the international conference “Saving our common home and the future of life on earth”, (Vatican, New Hall of the Synod, 5 – 6 July) marking the third anniversary of the publication of the encyclical Laudato si’. After the welcoming address by Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development that organized the event, and the speech by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the floor went to youths from world countries, the protagonists of a special panel dedicated to them. Children and youths are the primary recipients of the question expressed by Pope Francis at n. 160 of Laudato si’: What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”; the latter are the protagonists of the Synod for Young People that will take place next October (3 – 28) largely involved for a change of paradigm. Definitely, it ushers in a new gaze and a new prospect.
“Our common home goes in ruins and we are called to face unprecedented challenges. There is no more time to waste”, exhorted Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, who called for
“a great alliance, a network of people passionate about protecting the environment.”
Cardinal Pietro Parolin called for “concrete and participatory lines of action to save the common home”, in the awareness that, as the Pope reminds us, everything is interconnected, and that the “’cry of the earth’ is inherently connected with the ‘cry of the poor.’”
The floor to young people. Delio Siticonatzi, member of the Ashaninca people, an Amazonian ethnic group, conveyed the concerns of the young American natives. He warned about “the increasing exploitation of natural resources: gold, minerals and coca, causing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.” “I was present when Pope Francis visited the Amazon region – he said – and his words were of great encouragement”, they “warmed our hearts.
It’s beautiful to listen to the Church speaking our same language. We need the voice of the Church to be also our voice.”
“Young people in India view the future with anxiety and concern. Asia is probably one of the continents that is most exposed to the consequences of climate change”, said Macson Almeida, from India, member of the Don Bosco Green Alliance, highlighting the efforts of parishes in the Asian region: “My parish has launched the program ‘How green is my parish’ to encourage a sustainable way of living. But we intend to involve everyone, at all levels.”
Laura Menendez, from Spain, delegated to represent Manos Unidas at the Cop21 Conference in Paris, spoke about her personal experience: “My responsibility is greater than opting for the bicycle and recycling” and “it encourages me to be an agent of transformation inside my family and my working environment.”
“We must act in unison, actively participate in this transformation within a global movement.”
Jade Hameister, 17, from Australia, is the world’s youngest explorer of the North Pole, where the ice cap has melted and the ice thickness has dropped from 3.5 metres to one, and of the South Pole. She shared her experience: “The ice cap broke and prevented us from proceeding, we were wading through the channels that opened before us and on some occasions we had to carry the sledges on our shoulders”. Hameister said:
“it’s not only our planet: the very survival of the human race it at risk. We can hope in change only if we remain united.”
From the south of the world also arrived the voice of young poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, who transmitted the cries of her Marshall Islands, only two meters above sea-level, that risk disappearing all together. Kathy read a very compelling poem. She explained: “Our islands won’t disappear only if we manage to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees”, but the horizon is extended to Mexican children separated from their families.
“The narrative that denies the reality of increased sea levels resulting from climate change – she said with a firm, passionate voice – is the same narrative underlying the decision to separate children from their families.”
“The practical application of Laudato si’ is confronted with denial, resignation and other obstacles, but listening to the cries of the poor and of our planet is an ethical challenge. We can and we must opt for what is good”, said during the plenary meeting Mons. Antonio Camilleri, Vatican Under-Secretary for Relations with States, delegate at Cop24, the UN Climate Conference that will be held in Katowice (Poland) December 3-14. Culture of dialogue, integral approach, formation, responsibility, are the key-words. “Our window of opportunity is rapidly closing”, warned Patricia Espinosa, from Mexico, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “We must act in unison to reverse this trend, concrete actions are needed to implement the Cop 21 guidelines and the objectives indicated by Laudato si ‘.
We must hasten the pace of global action against climate change, which is first and foremost an ethical issue, and do so today.
What is being done by NGOs and governments is not enough.”