Our Movement Again Meets Pope Francis, During World Day of Prayer

September 4, 2015

The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was instituted by Pope Francis last month to coincide with the Eastern Orthodox Church’s day of celebration for creation, which has taken place this day since since 1989.  September 1st also kicks off a Season of Creation with resources for parishes and groups.

A member of the Steering Group of our Global Catholic Climate Movement, Brother Benedict Ayodi (of the JPIC Office of the Curia Generale of OFM Capuchins), had a chance to join and celebrate with Fr. Cantalamessa and Pope Francis.  Pope Francis “was delighted” to hear about GCCM’s efforts around praying for care of creation, the upcoming climate meetings, and the Season of Creation.

Bro Ayodi greets Pope Francis and shares about the work of GCCM, next to Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, after the Sept 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation.

Bro Ayodi greets Pope Francis and shares about the work of GCCM, next to Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, after the Sept 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation.

This is the second time that GCCM meets Pope Francis personally, as a follow up of the previous encounter in May when the Holy Father endorsed our Catholic Climate Petition campaign.

On the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the preacher to the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., said that St. Francis of Assisi is a key model in showing the link between faith in God and care for our common home.  “His love for creatures is a direct consequence of his faith in the universal paternity of God.”  One of the greatest sins against creation, he said, is not listening to God’s voice, but “condemning it irretrievably, Saint Paul would say, to vanity, to insignificance.”

The liturgy began with the Canticle of the Three Young Men from the book of Daniel, and the Christian prayer in union with creation found at the conclusion of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’.  There was then a first reading, from Genesis 1; a responsorial, Psalm 148; a second reading, from Laudato Si’; an Alleluia; and a Gospel reading, from Matthew 6.

As created by God and made in God’s image, human beings are “not absolute master of other creatures: he must account for what he received.”  He said, “a demonstratation that man’s abuse of creation does not follow the biblical vision is that today’s pollution map doesn’t coincide with the spread of the biblical region, but rather that “of a wild industrialization, turned only to profit, and with that the corruption that closes the mouth of all protests and resists all powers.” The natural hierarchy, which can be seen throughout nature, is “for life, not against it,” as evidenced when we allow millions of children to “die of hunger and disease underneath their eyes,” said Cantalamessa.

Two months earlier, Cardinal Parolin provided comment in support of care for creation and as a follow up to the encyclical, saying that  environment, the earth and the climate “are a common and collective good” which belong to the whole of humanity, and as such are “the responsibility of everyone.” He said that when we think of what kind of world we want to leave behind, it’s no longer enough to simply express concern for future generations, but there is also a need to see “that what is at stake is our own dignity.”  Our responsibility is to be “responsible for the responsibility of the other,” the cardinal stated, adding that our human vocation to be protectors of the earth and the environment “is not something optional.”

The heart of development and progress are the key objectives of allowing human dignity to flourish, helping to eradicate poverty, and countering environmental decay, the cardinal continued.  He then turned to the national and local sphere of the climate discussion, saying that frequently there are “too many special interests, and economic interests (too) easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”  Awareness among organizations must be increased, he said, explaining that this is where the Church’s social doctrine comes in as a point of reference on both the dignity of the human person and the promotion of the common good.