Pope calls for an end to the senseless war against creation
Pope Francis’s message for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will be celebrated on 1 September 2023, was released today. “Let Justice and Peace Flow” is this year’s theme. The pontiff appeals to participants in COP28 in Dubai to “listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis's message for this year’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was released today at a press conference held at the Vatican ahead of the celebration on 1 September 2023.
“Let us heed our call to stand with the victims of environmental and climate injustice, and to put an end to the senseless war against creation,” the pontiff writes.
The message is inspired by the biblical words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (5,24).
In his own reflection, Pope Francis once again goes back to the topic of integral ecology, which combines care for creation and for one’s fellow human beings.
Speaking about the pilgrimage he made in July 2022 on the shores of Lac Ste Anne, in Alberta, together with the indigenous peoples of Canada, the pontiff writes: “let us dwell on those heartbeats: our own and those of our mothers and grandmothers, the heartbeat of creation and the heartbeat of God. Today they do not beat in harmony; they are not harmonized in justice and peace.”
Lamenting the effects of the “war against creation”, he cites Benedict XVI who said that “the external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast”.
“Consumerist greed, fuelled by selfish hearts, is disrupting the planet’s water cycle. The unrestrained burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests are pushing temperatures higher and leading to massive droughts.
“Alarming water shortages increasingly affect both small rural communities and large metropolises. Moreover, predatory industries are depleting and polluting our freshwater sources through extreme practices such as fracking for oil and gas extraction, unchecked mega-mining projects, and intensive animal farming.”
For the river of justice and peace to flow again on Earth, courageous choices are needed today. “We must do this by resolving to transform our hearts, our lifestyles, and the public policies ruling our societies,” writes the pope.
The first step is the “ecological conversion” of the heart, as Pope John Paul II put it. Thus, let us renew “our relationship with creation so that we no longer see it as an object to be exploited but cherish it instead as a sacred gift from our Creator.”
For this to happen, the conversion of heart must result in a change in lifestyles. To this end, “let us repent of our ‘ecological sins’, as my brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has urged. These sins harm the world of nature and our fellow men and women. With the help of God’s grace, let us adopt lifestyles marked by less waste and unnecessary consumption, especially where the processes of production are toxic and unsustainable.
“Let us be as mindful as we can about our habits and economic decisions so that all can thrive – our fellow men and women wherever they may be, and future generations as well. Let us cooperate in God’s ongoing creation through positive choices: using resources with moderation and a joyful sobriety, disposing and recycling waste, and making greater use of available products and services that are environmentally and socially responsible.”
But political choices are also needed. For this reason, in his message Pope Francis appeals for action at COP28, the world conference on climate change set to take place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12:
“The world leaders who will gather for the COP28 summit in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December next must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.
“According to the commitments undertaken in the Paris Agreement to restrain global warming, it is absurd to permit the continued exploration and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures. Let us raise our voices to halt this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will bear the worst effects of climate change.”
Finally, the pontiff notes that, this year, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi falls on the same day, 4 October, as the start of the Synod on Synodality.
“In the same way that a river is a source of life for its surroundings, our synodal Church must be a source of life for our common home and all its inhabitants. In the same way that a river gives life to all kinds of animal and plant life, a synodal Church must give life by sowing justice and peace in every place it reaches.”
This applies as much to the Season of Creation as to the Synod. Hence, “let us live, work and pray that our common home will teem with life once again. May the Holy Spirit once more hover over the waters and guide our efforts to ‘renew the face of the earth’.”