New chapter brings Laudato Si’ to Venezuela
Before Diego López formally launched Global Catholic Climate Movement in his South American country, Laudato Si’ was discussed throughout Venezuela.
Here and there, Catholics mentioned Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on climate change and ecology, which has enlivened millions around the world to care for creation.
But no national organization was leading the way. No one was working to spread the encyclical’s message of love and care for creation in a country urgently seeking hope.
Earlier this year, the 26-year-old López took initiative to fulfill that need. In May, he launched the Global Catholic Climate Movement National Chapter in Venezuela, giving Laudato Si’ a strong base of action inside this overwhelmingly Catholic country.
López hopes the creation of the chapter will help Laudato Si’ reach all of his sisters and brothers in Venezuela, enlivening this country as it has much of the world during the past five years.
“[The chapter] is a blessing and a great opportunity for me, for all the Member Organizations, and for all the Animators and volunteers, to be able to serve and do great work within the country for the care of creation and our common home,” López said.
“I can also raise my voice for the cry of the Earth and the poor, who are the most vulnerable in the mismanagement of our common home . . . I can commit myself daily to seek actions and solutions that can be part of change.”
López graduated from the Laudato Si’ Animator course in June
Chapters are independent organizations that work closely with GCCM and its staff to spread the message of Laudato Si’ and create change in their communities.
Inside their countries, chapters frequently help bring people closer to their Creator by launching Laudato Si’ Circles–small groups that meet regularly to deepen their relationship with God–and by recruiting people to become Laudato Si’ Animators, champions for Catholic action on climate change.
López already knows the latter program well. He launched the Venezuela chapter for his final project in the Animator training course.
He and thousands of inspired people on six continents participated in the free online training, during which they learned about the tenets of Laudato Si’ and the root causes and consequences of the climate crisis.
Every Animator graduated from the course by completing a final project that took action for creation.
López is excited about bringing Laudato Si’ to life in Venezuela
Fellow Catholics and even people who have no religious affiliation have thanked López for his work on environmental issues in Venezuela, namely the creation of the chapter.
Venezuela is one the most biodiverse countries in the world, but it has long been among the world’s largest crude oil producers and is currently in the midst of a historic economic collapse.
López’s city, Maracaibo, has been particularly hit hard by the economic downfall that is largely due to corruption and mismanagement and has spawned Latin America’s largest refugee crisis.
López, however, is more than ready to do his part in changing the country’s narrative and providing hope to the most vulnerable in his country.
What especially excites him is his country’s youth. The median age in Venezuela is 30 years old, and the Catholic Church there mirrors that youthful population.
“The Church in Venezuela is a young church. The youth ministries are very strong, as are the Member Organizations we have,” López said.
He and his fellow Venezuelans plan to do as Pope Francis advised young people to do at the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio: make a “mess in the dioceses.”