VATICAN CITY — The Vatican hosted the global premiere of a new documentary on the urgent need to address climate change on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the same day the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2015 Paris Agreement entered into force for the Holy See.
The two events Oct. 4 helped mark the feast of the patron saint of animals and ecology, and the namesake of Pope Francis.
The Vatican became a formal party to the U.N. convention in July and declared at the same time that it intended also to formally join the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“Both documents will enter into force for the Holy See, in the name and on behalf of the Vatican City State, on 4 October 2022, the Solemnity of St. Francis,” said a joint statement by the pontifical academies of Sciences and Social Sciences and the Vatican Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states.
It was the same day a new film was launched at the Vatican for the world premiere of “The Letter: A Message For Our Earth,” based on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
Presented by YouTube Originals, the film was written and directed by Emmy-winner Nicolas Brown and produced by the Oscar-winning production company “Off the Fence.” It was made in partnership with the Laudato Si’ Movement, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Dicastery for Communication.
In the seven years since the pope’s landmark encyclical was published, “the environmental crisis of our common home has worsened drastically,” Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the integral development dicastery, said at a Vatican news conference Oct. 4.
“Clearly, the great treasure of Laudato Si’s wisdom needs to become far more deeply known and effectively put into practice,” he said.
At the news conference, Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, praised the pope’s letter as being in dialogue with science and emphasized action was urgently needed.
“The scientific community welcomes the opportunity to engage with artists and the people of faith. Both faith and art hold a great convening power and can inspire genuine collective climate action,” he said.
The film features activists representing wildlife, Indigenous peoples, young people and the poor — the voices of those who are least listened to, but are the most impacted by the consequences of climate change, Brown said at the news conference. The film includes their meeting with Pope Francis last year to talk about their national and personal challenges and what needs to be done.
The activists included: Chief Cacique Odair “Dadá” Borari from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil; Ridhima Pandey, a 13-year-old climate activist from India; Arouna Kandé, a climate refugee from Senegal; U.S. scientists Greg Asner and Robin Martin; and Lorna Gold, president of Laudato Si’ Movement.
The film is streaming for free at theletterfilm.org and YouTube Originals. People were encouraged to host viewings on a large screen at their parish, school or local community in order to encourage dialogue and action.
Editor’s Note: The San Diego Diocese has a Creation Care Ministry that works to promote “Laudato Si” and supports parishes, schools and the faithful as they pursue projects to care for the environment. The office invites the Catholic community to implement a variety of projects in the diocese’s Creation Care Action plan.