Laudato Si’ One Year On: How the World Has Changed

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One year after Pope Francis released Laudato Si', his encyclical on 'Care for our Common Home', Carolyn Woo, CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services examines the impact his words are having on the world's response to climate change.

Pope Francis' Laudato Si'

Philip Laubner/CRS

“Pope Francis made clear that the essential question is - what kind of world do we want to leave to our children,” - Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo.

One year after Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment -- ‘Laudato Si’ On the Care of our Common Home’, -- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) president and CEO, Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, says the signs of change are evident.

“Think of what has happened in the past year,” Woo said. “The Paris accords were signed. The Green Climate Fund that helps poor nations adapt to a changing climate received its first contribution of $500 million from the United States. It is so clear that the Holy Father made the entire world confront this issue in a new way.”

“Pope Francis made clear that the essential question is - what kind of world do we want to leave to our children,” Woo said. “It is a question we ask ourselves every day at CRS. To give it the right answer, the encyclical tells us that we must change our relationship with the bounty that God has given us in the natural world. We must be its stewards, not its exploiters.”

Woo was one of five presenters in Rome at the launch of the encyclical. As president of CRS and former dean of the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame, she was asked to address the roles business and the markets have in moving the world from environmental degradation to a path of inventive and active care for creation, our common home.

One year later, the encyclical’s call for action has begun to ripple across industries, governments, higher education, faith communities and humanitarian development organizations like CRS.

In December, 195 nations agreed to the U.N. Paris climate agreement, with 175 countries, including the United States and China, signing the agreement on Earth Day this year. The United States deposited its first contribution of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund in March, and in the Church, more than 100 Catholic University presidents signed a declaration of commitment to provide “influential leadership [...] to address the pressing emergencies of climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty…”
And CRS launched the “I Am Climate Change” campaign, which energized students on college campuses across the country both to look at their own behaviors as well as advocate to others, most especially our government.

Around the world, CRS continues to seek new and innovative ways to confront the issues that the changing climate brings to the poor. Across Africa, millions of farmers are adopting climate-smart agriculture by planting better types of crops, using improved tilling techniques and taking measures to preserve water and soil.

In Central America, farmers are learning about crops that will survive as rising temperatures mean the crops they depended on for generations will no longer flourish. In Asia, various disaster preparedness schemes help people predict and prepare for rising sea levels and severe storms.

“Laudato Si’ is an important milestone on a long journey,” Woo said. “It has helped energize and direct us as we continue to address the many mistakes made by man. We must be patient and persevere. It took a long time to get us in this situation and it will take a long time to get out of it.”

To download photos, video and other content, please visit our Laudato Si’ Current Issues Page.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Carolyn Woo, please contact Kim Pozniak at kim(dot)pozniak(at)crs(dot)org

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Kim Pozniak
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