Vienna - On 4 October 2021, the Austrian Conference of Religious Orders made a loud statement for climate protection and responsibility for creation, drawing attention to the fact that it is 5 to 12! The Jesuits in Vienna were also there.

When, if not now!

In a press conference, the Austrian religious orders informed how individual orders as well as families, parishes and businesses can participate in the worldwide Laudato sì action platform proclaimed by Pope Francis. As a wake-up call that it is finally time to act, the bells of the Jesuit Church and at numerous other locations of Austrian religious orders and churches rang out punctually at 5:12.

Back in 2015, Pope Francis described goals in his environmental and social encyclical Laudato sì that have the power to "hear the cry of the earth and of the poor, to advance ecological management and education, to strengthen a spirituality of ecology ..." But still the goals have not been reached, climate change is progressing steadily and all people are feeling the effects. It's 5before12!

"We want to be role models!"

"Pope Francis sends us on a 7-year journey with his launched Laudato-sì action platform, with the goal that each and every individual makes a contribution to ecosocial change. We religious congregations in Austria are happy to join in! We want to be role models!" emphasised Sr Hemma Jaschke, Provincial Director of the Steyl Missionary Sisters in Austria, South Tyrol and Romania and member of the Board of the Austrian Conference of Religious Orders.

"My appeal to all those in positions of responsibility in all areas of life is to take up this theme, and to appoint contact persons who can deal with Laudato sì. Let us stand together for a better future!" she appealed to each individual to join in. The Steyler Missionary Sisters have already dealt with the topic of climate protection at an early stage: Photovoltaic systems on the houses, usable water for the toilets, less meat consumption, fruit and vegetables from their own garden, two cars for 80 women religious and much more.

The Superior of the Jesuits in Vienna, Fr. Markus Inama, affirmed: "We take responsibility very seriously and have already established internationally with the leadership of the Order that commitment to creation responsibility is one of our priorities. We have already decided on the first steps for the Laudato sì Platform for Action."

As concrete examples, he mentioned the photovoltaic systems on the roofs of Jesuit houses, a significantly reduced consumption of meat, or the Jesuits' worldwide educational work in which they support young people in their commitment to climate protection, such as at the Eco Summer Camp held at Lasalle House in Zurich in August 2021.

#Together for a better world

Lisa Huber, Head of Mission and Social Affairs and coordinator of the Laudato si' platform of the Austrian Conference of Religious Orders presented the initiatives and offers of the religious communities of Austria on the topic of Laudato sì. She went into detail on how individual religious orders are already involved or can become involved in the future.

Examples are:

  • The hospitals of the Brothers of Mercy, which have set themselves the goal of climate neutrality; greenhouse gas emissions have already been halved to date.
  • The farms of Stift Altenburg, which are managed according to the principles of organic farming.
  • Melk Abbey is increasingly using green electricity with its own photovoltaic system.
  • Admont Abbey has started an e-car sharing project as a sensible supplement to public transport.

"We encourage all religious communities and all people to join in, to set an example and take the first steps towards an ecological-social future. Upheavals are always achieved when a small part of society starts to do something different - so a small movement can become a big turnaround. Become part of a movement that makes the goals of the encyclical Laudato si' a reality!" motivated Lisa Huber.

Bells ring at 5to12

The bells of the Jesuit Church in Vienna rang out punctually at 5vor12. And not only there, but also at many other locations of religious congregations/churches throughout Austria, the bells rang at 5:00 am. A sign as a wake-up call and a reminder that there is not much time left to take responsibility, to initiate a climate change and thus to save God's gift, our life and creation.

Participating religious communities/churches: Melk Abbey, Franciscan Sisters of Amstetten, Sisters of Mary of Mount Carmel, Admont Abbey, Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Kremsmünster Abbey, Jesuit Church Vienna, Anna Church Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Order of the Poor School Sisters of Our Lady, Dominican Church Maria Rotunda, Salesians Don Bocso.., Sacred Heart Basilica, Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, Lilienfeld Abbey, Sacred Heart Missionaries.

The new website www.5vor12.at was presented during the press conference. The website contains all information relevant to Austria on the topic of Laudato sì. On the website, current projects and actions of religious communities are presented on an ongoing basis, offers for religious communities on the topic of Laudato sì are presented, information on how each individual can participate is provided and much more.

Laudato si' action platform

With the conclusion of the Laudato si' Year, the new international Platform for Action has been launched. Individuals, organisations, groups that are committed to ecological and social projects in the spirit of the Pope's environmental encyclical are to be networked. Starting in October 2021, concrete projects are to be implemented within seven years. The focus can be on renewable energy, preservation and promotion of biodiversity, combating poverty, sustainability, prudent use of resources, educational projects, ecological spirituality and much more.