PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SEPTEMBER 1, 2017
Christians Unite to Protect Environment
Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew jointly call for prayer and action
Christians will celebrate the Season of Creation from September 1 to October 4. The Season of Creation is an occasion for reflection and action on environmental protection. It unites Christians around the world.
A rare joint statement has been issued by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. This is the first joint message from the heads of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on the subject of environmental protection. The statement recognizes the World Day of Prayer for Creation, the first day in the Season of Creation.
Tomás Insua, the executive director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, one of the members of the Season of Creation steering committee said, “Pope Francis’ and Patriarch Bartholomew’s joint statement on Creation exemplifies the spirit of fraternity that will protect our common home. We are united in our compassion for the vulnerable people who suffer the consequences of climate change and committed to fulfilling the vision of more just stewardship of our common home. The Season of Creation celebrates our shared purpose.”
Catholic participation in the season builds on a long tradition of Catholic teaching on environmental stewardship. Starting with Pope John Paul II, continuing through Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and now in Pope Francis, papal guidance on the environment stresses humanity’s role as stewards of Creation.
In 2015, Pope Francis issued the highest level of teaching in the Church, a papal encyclical, on ecology and climate change. Titled Laudato Si’, it laid out an ethical framework for addressing climate change and environmental degradation. A robust Catholic commitment to achieving the goals laid out by Pope Francis was demonstrated this week by Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, who joined Muslim and Jewish clerics in signing a proclamation on clean energy.
People around the world are following Church leadership on climate change. In Manila, Cardinal Tagle is leading a mass and symbolic “Walk for Creation” of thousands of people. In Assisi, Archbishop Sorrentino is leading a symbolic recreation of St. Francis’ replacing his wealthy clothes with those of a simple laborer by removing the dressing from a warhorse and rededicating it to a life of service on the Assisi pilgrimage. In Eastern Kentucky, the heart of coal country, The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are holding a prayer service at a solar power plant.
These events encapsulate the united Catholic response to climate change. Insua said, “Along with our ecumenical sisters and brothers, Catholics are playing a leading role in caring for Creation.”
The Season of Creation runs from September 1 through October 4. September 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for creation by Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I for the Orthodox in 1989, and was embraced by the other major Christian European churches in 2001 and by Pope Francis for the Roman Catholic Church in 2015. In recent years, many Christian churches have begun celebrating the “Season of Creation” between September 1 and October 4, the date of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Global Catholic Climate Movement has been a major convener of the ecumenical Season of Creation steering committee and hosts the Season of Creation website. The steering committee members are World Council of Churches, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and ACT Alliance.
Reba Elliott, Global Catholic Climate Movement
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