Making a Difference from the Ground Up: Caritas Australia's Response to the Pope's Urgent Environmental Call

Earlier today, Caritas Australia launched its much-anticipated Laudato Si’ Action Plan in response to the Pope’s Laudato Si' encyclical issued in May 2015.

In simple terms, the Pope’s message illustrates an urgent and imperative need to address the ecological crisis facing the planet. Highlighted throughout the document is the interconnectedness of all life and the moral imperative to care for our common home. The plenary Council of the Catholic Church in 2022 passed a motion calling for all Catholic agencies and bodies, including parishes and schools, to adopt their own Laudato Si’ Action Plan by 2030.

Chair of Caritas Australia’s board, Robert Fitzgerald, mentioned that taking care of our planet is core to the social Catholic teachings that underlie Caritas Australia’s mission.

“It's a long journey within the community, but the culmination of this action plan represents the progress that we as a society, we as a people, we as the church, can and do make.”

In response to this, Caritas Australia has unveiled its own Laudato Si’ Action Plan, marking a significant step in committing to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

By developing and launching its Laudato Si’ Action Plan, Caritas Australia has taken a critical step towards aligning its mission with the core Catholic principles. Furthermore, it is a crucial step in serving those most vulnerable overseas, who are unequivocally facing the frontline effects of climate change and environmental degradation, caused disproportionately by those who live in developed countries. (IPCC, 2023).

At the heart of Caritas Australia’s action plan lies a comprehensive approach to advocacy, community engagement, and ecological education. Crafted under the guidance of Caritas Australia’s Climate Community of Practice, the plan sets forth a roadmap for fostering sustainability at all levels within the organisation.

Kirsty Robertson, Caritas Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, explained: “Our small actions have a ripple effect, and this extends to the people overseas we work with.”

“Our small actions have a ripple effect, and this extends to the people overseas we work with.”

Kirsty Robertson, Caritas Australia’s Chief Executive Officer.

In practical terms, here are some of the ecological goals Caritas Australia is working on as part of the action plan:

  • An integral ecology audit of our energy, water and waste disposal in our offices.
  • Reducing all possible flights and excessive transport.
  • Carbon offsetting staff energy use where it is impossible to reduce emissions.
  • Integrating climate change and its effects as a core element of program planning and implementation.
  • Advocating for our Pacific neighbours through landmark reports such as the “Twin Clouds on the Horizon” report in 2022.
  • Educating the Catholic community on social and ecological justice through the work of Catholic Earthcare, and through our publications.
  • Exploring digital solutions to marketing and fundraising, instead of paper mail where possible.

As the momentum behind the Laudato Si’ Action Plan continues to build, Caritas Australia remains committed to leading by example and inspiring others to follow suit. Together, we can all work to create a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world for generations to come.

To learn more about Caritas Australia’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan and how you can get involved, visit Caritas Australia's Catholic Earthcare website. Join us in answering the call to protect our common home and cultivate a brighter future for all.