photo by Tomas Munita/CIFOR
Thousands of people from around the world drew inspiration for a “Just Transition for Latin America, the Continent of Hope” during the recent Season of Creation webinar titled by that name.

Monsignor Engelberto Polino Sánchez is the Auxiliary Bishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, responsible for the integral care of creation. He was appointed by Pope Francis to his current role in February 2018.

Sánchez helped everyone more fully understand the suggested theme of the 2020 Season of Creation: “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

Every year, the Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment.

The season started 1 September and concludes 4 October, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

Watch the first part of the webinar below (Spanish only)

During the season this year, amid crises that have shaken our world, we’re awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and each other.

This year, we enter a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, that requires radically new ways of living with creation.

Sánchez said the Jubilee has origins in the Jewish community. Every seven years they would celebrate a Sabbath year in which they would forgive all debts.

Applying the theme to the ongoing Season of Creation, he said, “It’s a time of repentance, it’s a time of grace . . . Each one of us is called to live this Jubilee year by experiencing this sanctity of God inside us.”

He continued, challenging the attendees, who hailed from all over the globe, including Paraguay and Panama but also Italy and the Philippines. “This Jubilee year asks us to examine how we manage the relationships with people, God,” he said.

We must use this time to listen to the cry of the Earth, Sánchez said. Creation is crying out, he said. “Please stop destroying me. I am a part of your home.”

Bishop Vicente de Paula Ferreira is the Secretary of the Special Commission on Integral Ecology and Mining for the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and also the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte and Brumadinho.

Paula Ferreira quoted the sixth chapter of Laudato Si’ and commented on how many things need to change course in regards to our relationship with creation.

“But humans above all need to change,” he said.

We can start this process by educating ourselves and working toward living a more simple life, Paula Ferreira said.

He echoed Pope Francis’ prophetic words in Laudato Si’ by saying, “You don’t find peace by accumulating goods . . . We need to learn how to cultivate a lifestyle living in a simple way. It’s important to develop an alternative lifestyle because it can bring real change to society.”

Watch the second part of the webinar below (Portuguese only)

We all should strive for an ecological conversion, Paula Ferreira said.

St. John Paul II first compelled Catholics to undergo an “ecological conversion”

Speaking in 2001, he said: “We must therefore encourage and support the ‘ecological conversion’ which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading.”

Elías Szczytnicki is the Secretary General of the Latin American and Caribbean Council of Religious Leaders (LACCRL) and the Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Office of Religions for Peace.

Szczytnicki remarked that, “It’s vital we all come together now, united for the love of God.”

Szczytnicki said that God’s love bonds us together, and that it’s crucial that we work to understand our relationship with ourselves and nature.

María Eugenia Di Paola is the Coordinator of the Environment and Sustainable Development Program of the United Nations Development Program. She is also a lawyer and has spent decades working on environmental issues in the public and private sectors.

Di Paola said the world must unite around Laudato Si’ and hold countries accountable to reaching the goals set out in the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, in which 197 countries agreed to keep global temperature increase to well below two degrees (Celsius).

A just transition away from fossil fuels shouldn’t leave anyone behind, she said, and the world can turn its “gray economies into green economies” by focusing on sustainable development and building resilient economies.

“Public budgets should be invested for sustainable development,” she said.