Young people’s intensified demand for climate action is a sign of hope during the planet’s ecological crisis, says Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican-based Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“There are so many signs of hope; God is raising up people around the world to come together to care for our common home; I am happy to note the role of young people in this journey,” the Ghanaian cardinal said on 15 July in a speech delivered by Fr Bruno Duffe, secretary of the dicastery, at a conference in Kenya. It marked the fifth anniversary of the Catholic Youth Network on Environment and Sustainability in Africa and the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Cardinal Turkson said: “I am very pleased by the emergence of the Laudato Si’ Generation, an international network of Catholic youth organisations striving to “live Laudato Si”. He added that, “it is such a fitting name, as you are the generation that will be remembered for being marked by Laudato Si’ and, most importantly, you are the generation that will be remembered for helping the Church implement Laudato Si’ to be more prophetic and coherent in her vocation to care for our common home.”

Cardinal Turkson noted that youth mobilisation against climate challenges have gained strength since August 2018, when Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish student-activist, ignited climate strikes. The protests have attracted millions of students worldwide. The cardinal described climate challenges as complex and multifaceted but said the pressure exerted by the students was being noticed by politicians, whom he said needed to show courage and make the decisions needed to fully implement the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature increase.

It was held under the theme, “Young People Caring for Our Common Home.”

The tempest is coming and we must get ready for its fury by having repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent. Confusion, collision, and death without a moment’s warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!—Messages to Young People, 89, 90 (1890)

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