On Friday January 13th 2023, a Dublin Jesuit school, Belvedere College, hosted a day of action around The Letter. It began with students joining the Friday for Future Climate Strike at the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann, followed by a tour of their rooftop urban farm and a screening of The Letter.
In attendance for the panel discussion after the film was the Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan, Dr. Lorna Gold, Chair of LSM, 16 year-old climate activist Sumaya Mohammad, and representatives of the Belvedere student body.
Mohammad, who has challenged the government on climate policy since age 12, spoke to the Laudato Si’ premise of a common home, stating “It doesn’t matter what your faith is…climate change affects us all. I really love at the end where they say we are all family. We are family and we need to preserve the planet for future generations.”
The panel afterward fielded a challenging question from moderator Phillip Boucher-Hayes who remarked that Laudato Si’ sets out a moral framework for climate change, but suggested frameworks are no longer what’s needed. “Is this all talk and no action?” he asked panelists.
Dr. Gold emphasized the actions that emerged from Laudato Si’, commenting, “Laudato Si’ has provoked a movement within the global church. It sets out a blueprint for action, for example fossil fuel divestment of the church’s institutions.”
Minister Ryan emphasized Gold’s comments. “Dialogue is central and important for this issue and it begins with listening and respect. In the leap we need to make, we need continuous dialogue: not just telling people what to do but having a shared responsibility … like in the movie, we need an orchestra, a choir.”
Sumaya, on the other hand, spoke to the urgency of the moderator’s question. “We have the answers,” Sumaya proclaimed. “We know exactly what we need to do. So the time for action was yesterday.”