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"Both global catastrophes, COVID and climate change, prove that we do not have time to wait..."

—Pope Francis, 2021 Earth Day Message


“The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations..."

—Pope Benedict XVI


In 2020, the world celebrated the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si, the encyclical in which Pope Francis drew new attention to the Church's concern for the environment. But did you know that, with this encyclical, the pope was continuing a well-established tradition? The modern Church has long recognized the relationship between humankind and the environment. In 1990, Saint John Paul II issued his landmark World Day of Peace Message: Ecological Responsibility and in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI issued his encyclical Caritas in Veritate

For its part, Catholic higher education has asserted its commitment to care for creation for many years. Ex corde Ecclesiae, the seminal document on Catholic universities issued by Saint John Paul II in 1990, notes in part: “As a natural expression of the Catholic Identity of the University, the university community should give a practical demonstration of its faith in its daily activities.”


Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration


Celebrate with us!

May 16-24, 2021, is recognized as Laudato Si' Week, a celebration of the progress the whole Church has made on its journey to ecological conversion, as well as a time to reflect on what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us and prepare for the future with hope.

Find out more


Anniversaries of Note

In 2020, Catholic Climate Covenant asked its member organizations to think about how we can put Laudato Si’ back on people’s radar in observance of the document’s fifth anniversary. Plans for events were altered in light of the spread of COVID-19, but Catholic colleges and universities were still able to use their creativity to highlight the importance of Pope Francis's landmark letter:

On April 22, 2020, we also celebrated Earth Day’s 50th anniversary! Dozens of Catholic institutions shared pictures and quotes on social media that highlighted the beauty and fragility of the Earth. Many campuses used the day as an important teaching opportunity by helping their communities see, as St. Francis of Assisi saw, “just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”

If your campus is incorporating the principles of Laudato Si' into its operations or instruction, or marking Earth Day with special events, please let our office know.  We can’t wait to raise the national voice of Catholic higher education on this issue that is central to humanity’s survival.



Featured articles:

Laudato Si Five Years Later
From the summer 2020 edition of Update, the author reflects on the effect of the pope's incyclical — and how much more can be achieved.

Hymns, teach-ins and a horse ride to school: Catholic stories of the first Earth Day
The National Catholic Reporter took a look back at the origins of Earth Day and its connection to Catholic higher education.