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World Day of Prayer for Creation

Environmental destruction is a sign of a "morally decaying scenario" in which too many people ignore or deny that, from the beginning, "God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment," said the leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
 
Marking the Sept. 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople issued a joint message.
 
They urged government and business leaders "to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation."
Looking at the description of the Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis, the pope and patriarch said, "The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy."
 
But, they said, "our propensity to interrupt the world's delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet's limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets -- all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation."
 
"We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession," the two leaders said. "We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs."
 
Ignoring God's plan for creation has "tragic and lasting" consequences on both "the human environment and the natural environment," they wrote. "Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation."
 
The pope and the patriarch said prayer is not incidental to ecology, because "an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world."
 
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople established the World Day of Prayer for Creation in 1989. In 2015, shortly after publishing his encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis established the day of prayer for Catholics as well.
 
The object of Christian prayer and action for the safeguarding of creation, the two leaders wrote, is to encourage all Christians "to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives."
 
Echoing remarks Pope Francis made Aug. 30 when the pontiff announced he and the patriarch were issuing a joint message, the text included a plea to world leaders.
 
"We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized," they wrote. No enduring solution can be found "to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service."
 
Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew also highlighted how "this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people," especially the poor, in a more pronounced way.
 
"Our obligation to use the Earth's goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures," they said. "The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work toward sustainable and integral development."
 
  • Published in World

Pope proposes care for creation as a new work of mercy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Calling for concrete actions that benefit human life and the environment, Pope Francis proposed adding the care and protection of creation to the traditional list of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 

As a spiritual work of mercy, the pope said, care for creation requires "a grateful contemplation of God's world," while as a corporal work, it calls for "simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness." 

The pope reflected on the need for an integral ecology in Christian life in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Sept. 1. 

The message, titled "Show Mercy to our Common Home," reflects on the day of prayer as an occasion for Christians to "reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation" and to thank God "for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care."

Presenting the pope's message at a news conference Sept. 1, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the day of prayer follows the example of the Orthodox Church, which initiated the prayer day in 1989. 

Pope Francis' message, the cardinal told journalists, calls on Christians to be "honest with ourselves" and acknowledge that "when we hurt the earth, we also hurt the poor" and thus commit "a sin against creation, against the poor and against those who have not yet been born."

"This means that we must examine our consciences and repent. I realize that this is not the way we traditionally think about sin. These are sins, Pope Francis says, that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed," Cardinal Turkson said. 

In his message, the pope said concern for the planet's future unites religious leaders and organizations and draws attention to "the moral and spiritual crisis" that is at the heart of environmental problems. "Christians or not, as people of faith and goodwill, we should be united in showing mercy to the earth as our common home and cherishing the world in which we live as a place for sharing and communion," the pope said. 

Pollution and global warming, due partly to human activity, he said, has turned the beauty of God's creation into a "polluted wasteland" that impacts the world's poor, who have suffered the brunt of "irresponsible and selfish behavior."

"As an integral ecology emphasizes, human beings are deeply connected with all of creation. When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings," the pope said.

The Year of Mercy, he added, offers Christians an opportunity to experience not only an interior conversion but also an "ecological conversion," one that recognizes "our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbors, creation and the Creator."

The first step on the path of conversion is to reflect on the harm done to creation by lifestyles inspired by "a distorted culture of prosperity," which brings about a "disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary," he said. 

Ecological conversion, the pope said, requires a serious examination of conscience, recognizing one's sins "against the Creator, against creation and against our brothers and sisters," and sincere repentance.

Sincere conversion and repentance are shown by a firm resolve to change course and bring about concrete actions that respect creation, such as energy conservation, recycling and caring concern for others.

"We must not think that these efforts are too small to improve our world. They call for a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread and encourage a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle," he wrote.

A change of course also requires governments to take steps to protect the environment. While praising the adoption of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, Pope Francis called on world leaders to honor their commitments in halting the rise of global temperatures and on citizens to hold them accountable and "advocate for even more ambitious goals."

Pope Francis said that adding care for creation to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy acknowledges human life and everything that surrounds it as "an object of mercy."

"In our rapidly changing and increasingly globalized world, many new forms of poverty are appearing," Pope Francis said. "In response to them, we need to be creative in developing new and practical forms of charitable outreach as concrete expressions of the way of mercy."
  • Published in Vatican

Behold God’s creation: Season of caring for our common home

This month-long focus on our call to ecological consciousness appropriately begins on the World Day of Prayer for Creation (Sept. 1) and ends on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology (Oct. 4). While the Roman Catholic Church only formally joined this observation in 2015, the World Day of Prayer for Creation was proclaimed by the Orthodox Church in 1989 with other major European Christian churches joining in 2001. 

The Day of Prayer for Creation has since grown into the Season of Creation to promote flexibility for increased involvement through various prayer services and engagement in differing actions of creation care throughout the month. The evolution of this particular prayer intention from a single day in a sole faith community to a season invoking worldwide, ecumenical and interfaith participation calls to mind the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis at the inception of Laudato si’, that care for our common home and glorification of God’s creation are issues of global concern, affecting “every person living on this planet” (LS 3). 

In support of the Season of Creation proclaimed by faith leaders, the following organizations will facilitate awareness and engagement during the 2016 observance: ACT Alliance, Global Catholic Climate Movement, GreenFaith: Interfaith Partners in Action for the Earth, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and World Council of Churches.

SeasonofCreation.org has compiled a hefty list of liturgical resources that can be used for both personal and communal prayer. Consider planning a Eucharistic Adoration service for Creation Day, praying a Guided Rosary on Caring for Creation, organizing a Prayer Vigil for Creation, joining the World Day of Prayer for Creation on Facebook or simply praying “A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation” and “A Prayer for Our Earth” composed by Pope Francis at the conclusion of “Laudato Si’”. 

These resources and more can be found at SeasonofCreation.org/liturgical-resources. Whether in serene, personal contemplation or jubilant, communal gathering, the possibilities for prayer for creation are as numerous as the creatures that call this planet home.

SeasonofCreation.org also provides five simple suggestions for taking action for a lived response to our ecological call: Join nearly 1 million Catholics in signing the Catholic Climate Petition to reduce the negative effects of humanity on the Earth’s climate and aid the poorest and most vulnerable people in coping with the drastic impacts of climate change; promote “Laudato Si’” and its message with a study group in your parish, school or community; encourage your parish to go green; live simply and sustainably by reducing your carbon footprint; and urge your community to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy solutions. 

The Global Catholic Climate Movement has compiled abundant resources for each of these initiatives, which can be accessed by exploring the Season of Creation: Take Action webpage.

Pope Francis, faith leaders of the world, the poor and vulnerable and creation itself call us to be passionate in prayer and ardent in action during this Season of Creation and all seasons of the year. As human beings entrusted to be caretakers of our common home, we should respond to this call zealously and without hesitation. 

Do you know a person, parish, school or community that is planning something for the the Season of Creation? Let us know. E-mail Mission Outreach and Communication Coordinator, Stephanie Clary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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