Ditebogo Lebea has experienced the climate crisis devastating creation. Her family in South Africa has endured flash flooding and droughts – the types of extreme weather that scientists say is much more likely with a warming planet.
But she knows we can do better, and she’s ready to help the Church lead the way. Now.
“The Lord’s creation is not for sale,” she said. “Let’s act now and act together.”
Lebea shared her moving story on Monday during a powerful Laudato Si’ Dialogue as Laudato Si’ Week 2021 continued across the world. The dialogue was called “Critical Opportunities in 2021 to create change: call for an integral path,” and featured ways all of us can work to create change ahead of ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year.
Ditebogo serves as a youth programs associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs. She challenged all of us to think about the world we want to live in and the world we want to leave for future generations.
Fr. Augusto Zampini of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development laid out how the Church will respond this year and beyond. Fr. Augusto said that all Catholics are called to listening to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor and to let love change who we are as members of creation.
“First we need to love, and therefore if we love, we listen to the cry of those beloved,” he said.
To conclude, Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal of the Amazon laid out in stark terms what is at stake and challenged all of us to speak out to our elected officials and government leaders.
“You cannot live without the forests, without water. Without them, there’s no life,” he said. “It’s not possible to stay silent or indifferent.”
Christine Allen moderated the event and serves as director of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, which is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International.