Press release: Season of Creation unites Christians worldwide

September 1, 2020

Rome, 1 September 2020
Press contact: Rebecca Elliott, [email protected]

Season of Creation unites Christians worldwide

Global celebration urges “radically new ways of living” to protect our common home

The Season of Creation, an annual celebration of prayer and action for the environment, begins today. During this annual event, Catholics and members of the global Christian family renew their relationship with the Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment.

Pope Francis has issued a message, available here, for the first day of the season, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The papal message emphasizes that

  • “In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles.  . . . The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads.”
  • “I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19.”
  • “We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages. Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.”
  • “We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world. . . . I invite all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.”
  • “We need to support the U.N. call to safeguard 30% of the earth as protected habitats by 2030 in order to stem the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. I urge the international community to work together to guarantee that the Summit on Biodiversity (COP 15) in Kunming, China becomes a turning point in restoring the earth to be a home of life in abundance, as willed by the Creator.”
  • “We must restore with justice in mind, ensuring that those who have lived on the land for generations can regain control over its usage. Indigenous communities must be protected from companies, particularly multinational companies, that ‘operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home’ (LS, 51), through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, timber and agroindustrial products.”

In addition, the Holy Father has released his prayer intention for the month in a video available here. The pope’s prayer intention is that “the planet’s resources will not be  plundered, but shared in a just and respectful  manner.” In the video accompanying this prayer, Pope Francis says that we are squeezing the Earth’s resources “as if the Earth were an orange,” and says “no to plundering; yes to sharing.”

This intention builds on a statement the Holy Father made as part of his COVID-19 catechesis series, in which he connects the suffering and injustice of this crisis with our larger moral crises. As part of that series, Pope Francis outlined four criteria for governments to consider as they deliver aid packages to industry. These are whether the industries are devoted to “inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good, or the care of creation.”

The Season of Creation is strongly supported by the Catholic hierarchy. Mons. Duffé, secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, published a letter inviting all Catholics, and bishops in particular, to take part in the season as part of the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year. Ten bishops’ conferences, including those in Africa, Asia, Europe, Ireland, Italy, and the Philippines, have now supported the season, with more statements anticipated.

Throughout the season, thousands of digital commitments and hundreds of local events continue the momentum. Local events will take place in locations as diverse as Nanyuki, Kenya, where shade and fruit trees will be planted to protect an ecologically sensitive site, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where a group will plant trees in commemoration of the Amazon, and Wellington, New Zealand, where an ecumenical group will hold a walking reflection on the Genesis creation story.

Speaking from Nanyuki, Stephen Kiboi, one of the organizers of the effort to plant fruit and shade trees, said “Climate chaos and environmental destruction threaten the lives and well-being of millions of people. Here in Kenya, the impacts on small farmers are more noticeable by the day. As local leaders, we know that local solutions play an important role. As Christians, we know that only strong, united, Spirit-filled action will see us all the way home.”

Speaking from Rome, Tomás Insua, executive director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, said, “Communities are reeling from the multiple impacts of the coronavirus, stronger storms and fires, and economic collapse. The combined cries of the earth and the poor remind us that our way of living is not working. We’re all urgently called to discover radically new ways of caring for creation and each other during the Season of Creation.”

The Season of Creation runs through 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis. Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox in 1989. The World Council of Churches was instrumental in making the special time a season, extending the celebration from 1 September to 4 October. Pope Francis made the Roman Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2019.

An ecumenical celebration guide, available here, suggests ideas for local events and offers practical resources to take action. An ecumenical steering committee suggests resources for the season each year. More information is available at SeasonOfCreation.org

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