An interview with Stefania Papa, the new head of EcoOne, the Focolare’s environmental agency. She describes the Focolare’s participation in ‘Season of Creation” anche…’ and various ecology projects.
From 1 September to 4 October, ‘Season of Creation’ will be held throughout the world. It features both prayer and concrete actions to safeguard and protect our common home. Stefania Papa is the new head of EcoOne, a cultural enterprise from the Focolare Movement that promotes a network of teachers, academics, researchers and professionals working in the environmental sciences. We interviewed her about the Focolare’s commitment to ‘Time for Creation’ and various ecology projects.
What is ‘Season of Creation’?
It is a specific period that goes from 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to 4 October, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. It will be a time in which various churches around the world come together to pray and promote concrete actions to safeguard and protect our common home. This year’s theme is: ‘A home for all? Renewing God’s Oikos.’ And Oikos in Greek means home.
Why is it important that it becomes more and more an event for different churches?
To answer this question, I am reminded of an ancient African proverb that goes like this: ‘If you want to go fast, run alone. If you want to go far, do it together with others.’
Pope Francis himself in the encyclical ‘Laudato sì’ says, ‘We need a confrontation that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are living, and its human roots, concern us and touch us all.’ We need to ‘unite the whole human family in the search for sustainable and integral development’.
We can only do this by coming together, seeking ever-closer collaboration and communion among the various Christian churches in the world.
It’s been six years since the pope’s ‘Laudato si’’. Yet there is still a long way to go…
Many other actions have been started and carried out, but much remains to be done. The task at hand may seem difficult, but we can still reverse some negative trends, adapt to minimize damage, restore crucial ecosystems and better protect what we have, starting with rethinking housing solutions and social mobility, sorted waste collection and in many other fields. But the road taken is the right one. And Pope Francis’ encyclical marks the point of no return.
There is also a petition to sign. What does it include?
It is an important opportunity that is offered to us to strongly ask world leaders to urgently commit to the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. In fact, two very important events will be held soon: 11–24 October 2021, the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15), where world leaders will set significant goals to protect creation; and 31 October–12 November 2021, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), where countries will announce their plans to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The Focolare Movement is a partner in the Laudato Si’ Movement. How does Focolare commit to ‘Season of Creation’?
The Focolare Movement has always been committed to the environment. For the ‘Season of Creation’ in particular, it has participated and is participating in the initiatives of the Catholic Church, such as the Laudato Si’ action platform of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development (through the New Families Movement) and in events promoted by the Laudato Si’ Movement, formerly the Global Catholic Climate Movement, to which it adheres.
In addition, the last General Assembly of the Focolare concluded in February 2021 and relaunched ecological changes for members and structures, with small, medium and large activities (such as financing international projects, and development partnerships with Action for New Families, United World Action, etc.).
At the same time, there is an ongoing commitment by all Focolare members to divest from fossil fuels. Just this year, in fact, the youth of the movement committed to pathways entitled ‘DareToCare’. It’s a campaign that means to take charge, take an active interest and give importance to the most fragile, the planet, institutions, our city, our neighbours and the problems of our society.
Last May, the NGO New Humanity was also accredited as an observer at the United Nations environmental governing body, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations agency that deals with all global environmental issues. New Humanity carries out its environmental protection activities in particular through the EcoOne cultural enterprise.
In addition, I would like to mention the partnership created between the Focolare Movement and FaithInvest, an international organization that works to help religions develop long-term strategic plans for the environment.
In the cultural and educational field, there are several conferences planned that are promoted by EcoOne. There is also EcoOne’s participation in the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) and projects in schools, such as the one recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education called ‘Giving to safeguard the environment’.
 Pope Francis, encyclical letter Laudato Si’, 13–14.