(Vatican Radio) Thursday, September 1st marks a worldwide day of prayer for the care of creation, an initiative started back in 1989 by the Orthodox Churches to celebrate the beginning of their liturgical year. Last year, after the publication of his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis established the day as an observance for the Catholic Church as well.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:
Speaking to pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis looked forward to Thursday’s day of prayer for the care of creation, describing the event as, “an opportunity to strengthen our common commitment to safeguard life, respecting the environment and nature.”
Christians of all different denominations will be marking the initiative, not just on September 1st but throughout the following weeks until October 4th, feast day of St Francis of Assisi for the Western Churches.
In a message for this year’s event, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed the importance of education to highlight the links between the environmental crisis and the spiritual crisis of our world driven by greed, gluttony and selfish desires. We must be careful to consider the possibilities of rapid technological progress in terms of the damage it can cause to our natural environment, he said.
In a video message, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, also warned that in a world obsessed by economic growth, we must radically rethink our ways of producing, trading and consuming our natural resources.
“In [..] a world where almost everything has a price tag, it’s time for us to affirm once again that creation is not for sale…”
And in a joint statement the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and the Conference of European Churches, together with Europe’s Christian Environmental Network, called on all people to strengthen ecumenical prayers and practical action to care for both our neighbours in need and for the ‘common home’ in which we live.