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PANAMA CITY – Just before World Youth Day begins, youth, Franciscan brothers, intellectuals and politicians gathered at the Third International Congress of the Care of Creation: Ecological Conversion of Action at the University of Santa Maria La Antigua.

At the conference, the participants learnt more about Laudato si’, refocused our minds towards those who are most vulnerable to climate change, and catalysed the youth to talk about actions that have worked or they are working on in their own countries.

Laudato si’s focus was centred on action. The encyclical calls Catholics to humbly listen and witness the ecological injustice that is happening today, and assess how to act on it. A few examples that Cardinal Peter Turkson talked about were divestment from fossil fuel companies, lobbying with industry leaders that pollute our planet, and finally, go back to our homes to start ecological clubs.

Action must go well beyond setting meetings and attending conferences. We also need to divest from fossil fuel companies. We need to develop our economy without forgetting those who are vulnerable to climate change such as the poor, women and children. We cannot profit from the misery of the environment.

Overall, staying true to the theme of World Youth Day Panama, “I am Your servant, let it be done to me according to Your will,” World Youth Day is a prime opportunity to spark action on environmental issues. It is also a prime opportunity to call on our church leaders for pertinent and practical support.

By: Dewy Sacayan