This year, the Global Week of Action for the SDGs will be held from 18 to 26 September, alongside the UN General Assembly, with the 5th anniversary of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, which were adopted on 25 September 2015. Pope Francis will speak via video message to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21. Pope Francis is expected to speak about using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to rethink economic, political and environmental policies in a way that will benefit humanity and the earth.
The 2020 Global Week to Act4SDGs, on September 18-26, is a joint call to action for everyone– leaders, citizens, organizations and institutions- to commit to make this a Turning Point for People and Planet and put the Goals at the heart of their recovery plans, to use the next ten years to deliver all the Sustainable Development Goals, together.
2020 has been an incredibly challenging year. Millions have been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis - from getting sick or succumbing to the virus, to losing jobs and income, to facing hunger, deprivation and violence, to the repression of civil society. We do not know yet the full extent as the crisis still looms large or what the fallout will be, but we do know that inequalities have worsened, and worsening the situations of those who are marginalised, especially of older people and women. As a result, it is even more crucial to hold governments accountable to their commitments to implement and achieve the SDGs and to leave no one behind during this crisis.
In the Spirit we are all United
The Time for Creation 2020 has become a truly ecumenical initiative.The Global Ecumenical Opening Prayer on 1 September, with over 1.000 mostly young Christians of different denominations (Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans and many more denominations) from Africa, Asia, Europe, North, Middle East and South America was an amazing experience for everyone. Participants prayed for forgiveness for “our vicious consumption of food and energy” and for “our failure to share what we receive from the earth.” They listened to the Old Testament account (Leviticus 25) of God commanding the Israelites to observe a year of rest for the land every seven years and to mark a Jubilee every 50th year.Living ecumenism, united and spiritually powerful for the care of our common home. Numerous priests, pastors, members of religious orders and bishops (Jan de Groef, South Africa) accompany and support the Opening Prayer. The final blessing was given by a Maori Anglican bishop living in the remote region of New Zealand’s North Island.
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation, Pope Francis reflects on the Biblical significance of the Jubilee, as evoked by the theme of the Season of Creation, Jubilee of the Earth: "A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world. We need to stand up for intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity at this critical moment. I invite all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.
Pope Francis invites everyone to participate in the implementation of Laudato Si' through action plans:"We also rejoice to see how the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year is inspiring many initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor. This year should lead to long-term action plans to practise integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare, business and agricultural institutions, and many others as well."
In a Message Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew says “a change of direction toward an ecological economy is an unwavering necessity:It is inconceivable that we adopt economic decisions without also taking into account their ecological consequences. Economic development cannot remain a nightmare for ecology. We are certain that there is an alternative way of economic structure and development besides the economism and the orientation of economic activity toward the maximization of profiteering. The future of humanity is not the homo œconomicus".
The Seaon of Creation is the ecumenical initiative jointly supported by all churches in the world. The theme 2020 is Jubilee for the Earth. The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the holy wisdom that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities. When one variable is exploited to maximize growth of another, the whole system will eventually suffer. When one part of the earth community is stressed, every part is affected. In 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic demonstrated this reality on a global scale. While the experience of living with the COVID-19 outbreak points back to this need to maintain justice, the lessons that we learn may point us towards the need for a Jubilee and motivate us to restore balance to the very systems that sustain life.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) have released a joint document, “Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond.” Its purpose is to encourage churches and Christian organizations to reflect on the importance of interreligious solidarity in a world wounded by the COVID-19 pandemic
Pope Francis launches the Global Educational Alliance initiative to shape the future of humanity by forming mature individuals who can overcome division and care for our common home.
By Devin Watkins (Vatican News)
The Vatican will host a digital meeting on 15 October 2020 in the Paul VI Hall to reflect on the theme “Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance”. The Holy See Press Office announced that the Pope has invited representatives from various religions, NGOs, academia, and cultural and political leaders to attend, in hopes of endorsing the “Global Compact on Education”.
Pope Francis lent his support to the initiative on Thursday. In his written message, the Pope said the meeting “will rekindle our dedication for and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue, and better mutual understanding.”The goal, he stressed, is to develop “a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society,” adding that education is key to driving positive change.
In an educational village
“Never before has there been such need to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity,” he said.
Quoting an African proverb – “It takes a whole village to educate a child” – Pope Francis called for the creation of an “educational village”. In such a system, he said, everyone would participate according to their respective roles to form a “network of open, human relationships.”
The Pope called it an alliance that “integrates and respects all aspects of the person, uniting studies and everyday life, teachers, students and their families, and civil
society in its intellectual, scientific, artistic, athletic, political, business, and charitable dimensions.”
And he laid out several steps towards creating this “educating village”.
Along paths of fraternity
For this project to succeed, Pope Francis said, fraternity must be allowed to flourish and discrimination swept aside, as he urged in the Document on Human Fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.
The Pope said the first step is finding “the courage to place the human person at the center.” This means recognizing the world’s interconnectedness and re-thinking economics, politics, growth, and progress, giving pride-of-place to an integral ecology that rejects the throw-away culture.
Next, Pope Francis called for summoning up “the courage to capitalize on our best energies”. The status quo should be replaced by giving education “a long-term vision”, to create a new humanism. The result, he added, will be “men and women who are open, responsible, prepared to listen, dialogue and reflect with others, and capable of weaving relationships with families, between generations, and with civil society.”
The Pope said a further step is “the courage to train individuals who are ready to offer themselves in service to the community.” Service, he said, is the “pillar of the culture of encounter”, and means helping the neediest of people and discovering that “there is more joy in giving than in receiving.”
To direct history
Pope Francis concluded by inviting everyone to commit themselves to improving their communities and to promoting “forward-looking initiatives that can give direction to history and change it for the better.”
“Let us seek solutions together, boldly undertake processes of change, and look to the future with hope.”