This year was supposed to be a year of celebration in Rome, commemorating five years since the release of Laudato si’, the papal encyclical on care for our common home. However, instead of the gratitude that ought to have characterised the marking of that anniversary, the underlying public sentiment when witnessing the unfolding events first in China, then Italy, Spain and now the UK, USA and so many other countries, is panic, horror and anxiety.
Some reporters have tried to find examples of good news in order to lift the prevailing angst and heaviness. One is that stopping or drastically reducing flying and other activities does literally clean up our air. But before making too hasty a judgment about this, we must acknowledge that vulnerable, poor communities, such as those of the Pacific Islands, are losing their economic foothold as an indirect result of Covid-19. The very factors that lead to ‘ecological virtues’, such as halting the carbon footprint of global exchange, also open up other threats to the means of addressing basic human need. It shows how entangled our lives are and how extremely complicated it is to try and solve threats to our common home.