We are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si' (2015). Researchers and actors of an Earth habitable by all, all citizens of the world, can find in it landmarks and a compass to act and live better together. Laudato Si' also gives the principles of ecological education (last chapter of Laudato Si).
Everything leads us to realize today the danger of self-destruction in which humanity is engaged if it does not take the measure of the harmful impacts it exerts on the habitability of the Earth. The universal awareness of such a phenomenon is growing, and must be accompanied by concrete action, but also by new ways of living and exchanging human beings, among themselves and with all living beings.
"As never before in history, our common destiny invites us to seek a new beginning," says the Earth Charter (The Hague, 2000). The Greek word Arkhe (ἀρχή), 'beginning', has given rise to many words in French as archeology or archangel. It can also be translated as "principle", "that which is at the origin", in other words, "that which occupies the first place". To speak of a new beginning, with the topicality of the "de-confinement" as a background, to ask ourselves the question: What is important in our existence and gives it meaning? It is appropriate for each one of us, and for us together in society, to answer this primordial question. This question is also the key to education. "Because to educate is to seek the meaning of things. It is to teach how to find the meaning of things. "(Pope Francis on World Environment Day, 5 June 2020).
Today, many young people are "aware of the gravity of the cultural and ecological crisis". Some of them struggle admirably, but because they have grown up in a context of high consumption and well-being, "the development of other habits" is made difficult (Laudato Si, § 209). This is true for all of us.
To accompany and teach new ecological habits, Laudato Si' Centres are being set up everywhere. The magazine Le Pèlerin has just published a booklet listing 50 of these places in France "to change our lives", celebrating "ecology, sobriety, sharing". Will we be the "Laudato Si generation" in the network of such inspiring places? We will be the "Laudato Si generation" in the network of such inspiring places: the Jesuit spiritual centre of Hautmont in the North; the Abbey of Lérins, opposite Cannes, where the monks say that Laudato Si' guided the reflection on the coherence of their life; l'Ermitage in Versailles; through many other places that are just as close by the heart, and even more so geographically, such as the "fascinating model of shared life" of the Rebellerie in Nueil-sur-Layon, or here in Angers, "in the garden in the city" that is L'Esvière.
"Education for the alliance between humanity and the environment" (Laudato Si, § 209 to 215) passes through such places of immersion and practical teaching conducive to "an ecological conversion".
God created the world by inscribing in it an order and a dynamism that human beings have no right to ignore. When we read in the Gospel that Jesus speaks of the birds, and says that none of them is forgotten in the sight of God" (Lk 12:6): can they still be mistreated or harmed? I invite all Christians to make explicit this dimension of their conversion, allowing the strength and light of the grace received to extend also to their relationship with other creatures and with the world around them, and to foster that sublime fraternity with all creation which St Francis lived in such a luminous way.
Laudato Si, § 221