Pope Francis has instituted a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will be celebrated each year on September 1st.
Francis made this announcement in a letter he sent to Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, which was published by the Holy See Press Office this morning.
In the letter, the Pope reaffirmed how part of our responsibility as Christians involves resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, he stressed, we must first rediscover in our own “rich spiritual patrimony” the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation and how Jesus lived in the world.
Recalling his encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’, Francis stressed that the ecological crisis summons us to a ‘profound spiritual conversion’: “Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.” (217)
“The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live,” he said.
The celebration of this day on the same date as the Orthodox Church, the Holy Father stated, will provide a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.
“We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective,” he said, noting it is his hope that this day will “in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesial Communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches.”
Before concluding, Pope Francis invoked upon this initiative the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, and of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures, he noted, “inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation.”