Pope Francis issues a message for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. There is a specific sin against the environment, which has a harmful impact on people. "When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings.” We need a change in lifestyle. The pontiff proposes a new work of corporal and spiritual mercy for the "care of the common home". He also offers a prayer at the end.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There is a sin against the care of creation, which must be confessed especially in this Jubilee of Mercy. There is also self-examination, repentance, confession, and a resolve to change life, polluting less, consuming less, being less selfish, says Pope Francis in his Message today for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
The pope goes so far to add two other works of mercy to the list of the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. The new works of mercy are basically one, "care of the common home," which gives the title to today's message, " Show Mercy to our Common Home"
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is celebrated “with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and with the support of other Churches and Christian communities”. The Holy Father notes in fact that Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, like his predecessor Patriarch Dimitrios, devoted a lot of energy to this issue.
According to the pope, “throughout the world similar initiatives promoting environmental justice, concern for the poor and responsible social commitment have been bringing together people, especially young people, from diverse religious backgrounds.”
The ideal that informs the pontiff’s thoughts is not the ecology of ‘Mother Earth’, a form of nature that eliminates mankind, but that of “human ecology” (often repeated in the encyclical Laudato si’) in which the fate of mankind and nature are tied. “When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings” (n. 1).
Speaking about “Global warming continues, due in part to human activity,” he says. The year “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”
The Jubilee of Mercy provides an opportunity to “acknowledge our sins against creation, the poor and future generations”. For, “As individuals, we have grown comfortable with certain lifestyles shaped by a distorted culture of prosperity and a “disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary” (Laudato Si’, 123). As such, we participate in a system that ‘has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature’” Let us repent of the harm we are doing to our common home” (n. 3).
After “Examining our consciences, repentance and confession to our Father who is rich in mercy,” the pontiff suggests we change lifestyles, “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices” (n. 4).
“Economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains. Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation.”
Within this context, the Holy Father mentioned the “ecological debt” the North that pollutes owes the south that is subject to this pollution (cf. Laudato Si’, 51-2).
“Repaying it would require treating the environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial resources and technical assistance needed to help them deal with climate change and promote sustainable development.”
The message proposes to add a work of mercy to the existing list of corporal and spiritual works, which is “care for our common home.”
“As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’ (Laudato Si’, 14) which ‘allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us’ (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world’ (ibid., 230-31)” (n.5).
At the end of the message comes a prayer:
“O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
who are so precious in your eyes…
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth” (ibid., 246),
God of mercy, may we receive your forgiveness
and convey your mercy throughout our common home.
Praise be to you!