Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has decided to institute a ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ to be celebrated every year on 1 September, starting this year, along with the Orthodox Church and all Christian communities that wish to join.
The decision was made public in a letter dated 6 August 2015 sent to Card Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Card Kurt KOCH, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
In his message, the pontiff mentions his "beloved brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew," who has been involved for years in the defence of creation, and "Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum," who was present when the Laudato si’ encyclical was released last June.
The pontiff chose 1 September because the Orthodox Church already celebrates a similar event on that day.
"As Christians,” Francis writes in his letter, “we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation".
Citing Laudato si’, he went on to say, "The ecological crisis thus 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’ (ibid, 217)”.
For the Holy Father, an "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."
At the same time, “The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters”.
Ultimately, “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.”