1 September 2022
Dear brothers and sisters!
“Listen to the voice of creation” is the theme and invitation of this year’s Season of Creation. The ecumenical phase begins on 1 September with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and concludes on 4 October with the feast of Saint Francis. It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home. Originally inspired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, this Season is an opportunity to cultivate our “ecological conversion”, a conversion encouraged by Saint John Paul II as a response to the “ecological catastrophe” predicted by Saint Paul VI back in 1970.
If we learn how to listen, we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand, we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other, an anguished plea, lamenting our mistreatment of this our common home.
The sweet song of creation invites us to practise an “ecological spirituality” (Laudato Si’, 216), attentive to God’s presence in the natural world. It is a summons to base our spirituality on the “loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion” (ibid., 220). For the followers of Christ in particular, this luminous experience reinforces our awareness that “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Jn 1:3). In this Season of Creation, we pray once more in the great cathedral of creation, and revel in the “grandiose cosmic choir” made up of countless creatures, all singing the praises of God. Let us join Saint Francis of Assisi in singing: “Praise be to you, my Lord, for all your creatures” (cf. Canticle of Brother Sun). Let us join the psalmist in singing, “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” (Ps 150:6).
Tragically, that sweet song is accompanied by a cry of anguish. Or even better: a chorus of cries of anguish. In the first place, it is our sister, mother earth, who cries out. Prey to our consumerist excesses, she weeps and implores us to put an end to our abuses and to her destruction. Then too, there are all those different creatures who cry out. At the mercy of a “tyrannical anthropocentrism” (Laudato Si’, 68), completely at odds with Christ’s centrality in the work of creation, countless species are dying out and their hymns of praise silenced. There are also the poorest among us who are crying out. Exposed to the climate crisis, the poor feel even more gravely the impact of the drought, flooding, hurricanes and heat waves that are becoming ever more intense and frequent. Likewise, our brothers and sisters of the native peoples are crying out. As a result of predatory economic interests, their ancestral lands are being invaded and devastated on all sides, “provoking a cry that rises up to heaven” (Querida Amazonia, 9). Finally, there is the plea of our children. Feeling menaced by shortsighted and selfish actions, today’s young people are crying out, anxiously asking us adults to do everything possible to prevent, or at least limit, the collapse of our planet’s ecosystems.
Listening to these anguished cries, we must repent and modify our lifestyles and destructive systems. From its very first pages, the Gospel calls us to “repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Mt 3:2); it summons us to a new relationship with God, and also entails a different relationship with others and with creation. The present state of decay of our common home merits the same attention as other global challenges such as grave health crises and wars. “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (Laudato Si’, 217).
As persons of faith, we feel ourselves even more responsible for acting each day in accordance with the summons to conversion. Nor is that summons simply individual: “the ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion” (ibid., 219). In this regard, commitment and action, in a spirit of maximum cooperation, is likewise demanded of the community of nations, especially in the meetings of the United Nations devoted to the environmental question.
The COP27 conference on climate change, to be held in Egypt in November 2022 represents the next opportunity for all to join in promoting the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. For this reason too, I recently authorized the Holy See, in the name of and on behalf of the Vatican City State, to accede to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, in the hope that the humanity of the 21st century “will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (ibid., 65). The effort to achieve the Paris goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C is quite demanding; it calls for responsible cooperation between all nations in presenting climate plans or more ambitious nationally determined contributions in order to reduce to zero, as quickly as possible, net greenhouse gas emissions. This means “converting” models of consumption and production, as well as lifestyles, in a way more respectful of creation and the integral human development of all peoples, present and future, a development grounded in responsibility, prudence/precaution, solidarity, concern for the poor and for future generations. Underlying all this, there is need for a covenant between human beings and the environment, which, for us believers, is a mirror reflecting “the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”. The transition brought about by this conversion cannot neglect the demands of justice, especially for those workers who are most affected by the impact of climate change.
For its part, the COP15 summit on biodiversity, to be held in Canada in December, will offer to the goodwill of governments a significant opportunity to adopt a new multilateral agreement to halt the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species. According to the ancient wisdom of the Jubilee, we need to “remember, return, rest and restore”. In order to halt the further collapse of biodiversity, our God-given “network of life”, let us pray and urge nations to reach agreement on four key principles: 1. to construct a clear ethical basis for the changes needed to save biodiversity; 2. to combat the loss of biodiversity, to support conservation and cooperation, and to satisfy people’s needs in a sustainable way; 3. to promote global solidarity in light of the fact that biodiversity is a global common good demanding a shared commitment; and 4. to give priority to people in situations of vulnerability, including those most affected by the loss of biodiversity, such as indigenous peoples, the elderly and the young.
Let me repeat: “In the name of God, I ask the great extractive industries – mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness – to stop destroying forests, wetlands, and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people”.
How can we fail to acknowledge the existence of an “ecological debt” (Laudato Si’, 51) incurred by the economically richer countries, who have polluted most in the last two centuries; this demands that they take more ambitious steps at COP27 and at COP15. In addition to determined action within their borders, this means keeping their promises of financial and technical support for the economically poorer nations, which are already experiencing most of the burden of the climate crisis. It would also be fitting to give urgent consideration to further financial support for the conservation of biodiversity. Even the economically less wealthy countries have significant albeit “diversified” responsibilities (cf. ibid., 52) in this regard; delay on the part of others can never justify our own failure to act. It is necessary for all of us to act decisively. For we are reaching “a breaking point” (cf. ibid., 61).
During this Season of Creation, let us pray that COP27 and COP15 can serve to unite the human family (cf. ibid., 13) in effectively confronting the double crisis of climate change and the reduction of biodiversity. Mindful of the exhortation of Saint Paul to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep (cf. Rom 12:15), let us weep with the anguished plea of creation. Let us hear that plea and respond to it with deeds, so that we and future generations can continue to rejoice in creation’s sweet song of life and hope.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 16 July 2022, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
This message by Pope Francis comes to us from God himself. We have to listen to him. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the courage, the energy we need to try again to cry out against what the fossil fuel powerful companies are doing to our Earth. Dear God, please show us the way!
Let us join together wherever you are, praying the Holy Spirit will guide us.
How can I create a local Laudato Si chapter drawing on interested persons fro local parishes?
if you are on this site, look at the tool bar to see your options. As I mentioned in my comment, as an animator I have had more success with of other faiths (especially Episcopalians! and COE!) than other Catholics. Perhaps organizing community events that include anyone would be helpful. https://laudatosimovement.org/
A wee correction: Episcopalians etc are other Christians, rather than other faiths. Working in a Christian ecumenical environment, this is important to grasp.
Bill, where are you based?
Hi Bill, where are you located? I’d love an opportunity to chat some more about your interest in creating a LS chapter. I can be reached at [email protected]
Contact Catholic Climate Covenant https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/
Since I first read Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’: Care for Our Common Home in 2015, my own life has been enriched and filled with the hope such words of potential prophesy can bring to the despondent. It was, and is, a call to action. For those of us who have participated in marches and sustainable living practices and adherence to purchasing items through fair trade, this was a much needed reminder that we are not alone.
Pope Francis is the head of an organization that seems in conflict about this message. My experience as an animator in the Laudato Si Movement is that it is easier to attract interest from those of other faiths, those who acknowledge the damage we are doing to our Common Home and so many of its inhabitants.
Perhaps the record heat waves and devastation this summer has brought will help to nudge those reluctant to see where we are headed if we do not change course.
So much of what Jesus taught was the simple shift of awareness. It is time for us to reexamine his parables that ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Project Drawdown is a scientific approach to addressing the points raised by Pope Frances. Not intentionally so, but great ideas seem to emerge spontaneously in times of need. The 2017 book outlines sustainable industry, its cost and potential profit in terms that are comprehensible as they are inspiring. here is a link to the book, which can be purchased or found at your local library https://drawdown.org/the-book
I LOVED READING POPE FRANCIS’S LETTER ABOVE. HE HAS SUCH INSIGHT INTO
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR WORLD. TOO BAD OUR POLITICAL LEADERS (ON THE WHOLE DO NOT.)
POPE FRANCIS IS INDEED BLESSED BY GOD TO LEAD AND WE SHOULD LISTEN
I am deeply touched by the profound message of Pope Francis! It’s high time we cultivate the art of caring for Mother Earth and doing our best, our part to make it a more beautiful place to live in! We need to take time out to contemplate on this present, power-filled message of our Holy Father!!
Who is mother earth?
The brilliance of Pope Francis’s discernment of our situation and predicament comes through loud and clear. We have much to ponder and act upon.
Heal your Hearts through forgiveness. Join hands in Unity. Let’s make WORLDPEACE TOGETHER. Verona Pentony
Hello, I think the Pope’s message is from the heart .
How much nicer it would be if each one of us will still keep trying to do our own little share. On the other hand, how sad and tragic if we just let this world that is intended to be beautiful when God created it simply deteriorate and go to waste, and worse due to human greed.
Have been an environmental advocate since my teen years. Also tried to do a research paper for a class in graduate school which a professor from India said she would duplicate and apparently she did in concrete ways while the government in my own country simply shelved the project.
Nonetheless, we keep the Franciscan spirit of being faithful in building (the church and perhaps the world as well) “little by little” wherever we are. In my case, through recycling, cleanups, and even canine rescue, among others. May the Lord bless our efforts so our personal initiatives can inspire and be multiplied through others also doing something similar.
Singing with you the canticle 🙂
beautifully said and may we all join this prayer and sentiment in action from our hearts, spirits and minds every day.
A remarkable Letter, filled with the Words of Our Creator God. Our Holy Father has open ears as He listens to the cries of Mother Earth and the suffering cries of the Poor of the World, which is being destroyed by greed. Thank you Holy Father .
Good to see that the radical edge of Laudato Si, which so many have missed, is alive and well with Pope Francis: unless we approach Creation personally, rather than as a mere object, we will not grasp this ecological conversion.
Such a powerful message. Interesting to note that Saint Paul VI already referred to the ecological crises in 1970s in tune with the 1972 Stockholm Conference. This was the first UN Conference that summoned Heads of Government to address the needs of the planet. The Popes were always on the forefront in highlighting this obligation. The ecological crises unite us all. Action now, despite political divisions and conflicts despite other challenges and tragedies like the COVID pandemic. There is no time to lose.
Wonderful prayer and the message from Pope. It is inspiring me to do something for erath.