It was a simple yet audacious goal: Create a home for all.
The theme for the 2021 Season of Creation, “A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God,” saw Catholics join our Christian sisters and brothers across the globe to pray and take action for our common home.
The annual ecumenical celebration, held from 1 September to 4 October, was bookended with historic events that showed the urgency of the climate crisis but also the strength of Christian unity.
In between those historic occasions, hundreds of thousands of Christians worldwide expressed their love for God’s creation in myriad ways, many of which featured how they and their communities were bringing to life the 2021 Season of Creation theme.
Here are the top five highlights of the 2021 Season of Creation.
1. Pope Francis’ leadership
Photo credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk
From the very start of the ecumenical season, Pope Francis showed his prophetic leadership around the climate crisis.
His Holiness began the season by encouraging all Catholics to take “decisive, urgent action” in order to “transform this crisis into an opportunity.”
WATCH: Pope Francis invites you to celebrate Season of Creation
Days later, Pope Francis, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a historic joint statement.
Ahead of the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the first-ever message from the three faith leaders called on all Christians and their communities to examine their behavior and pledge “meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.”
Throughout the season, on social media, Pope Francis urged all Christians to participate in the ecumenical celebration and used #SeasonOfCreation.
To close the season, on 4 October, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, His Holiness united the faith world once more. More on that to come.
WATCH: Catholics worldwide celebrate 2021 Season of Creation
2. Bringing the 2021 Season of Creation theme to life
Catholics united around the theme of the 2021 Season of Creation.
In the Book of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah opened their tent as a home for three strangers, who turned out to be God’s angels (Genesis 18). By creating a home for all, their act of radical hospitality became a source of great blessing.
WATCH: What is Oikos? Exploring 2021 Season of Creation theme
Just as Abraham and Sarah did, Catholics pitched tents for all as a symbol of their radical hospitality and their commitment to safeguarding a place for all creatures in our common home.
In Perugia, Italy, a Laudato Si’ Circle moved their tent from place to place – from the historical center of the city, to the commercial centers of the suburbs, and to parishes – to share the transformational theme with all people.
Others were so moved by the theme that they created and gifted a tent for Pope Francis.
Catholics also created a home for all by hosting prayer services and community clean-ups, which were among the hundreds of events that took place during the ecumenical and global season.
Worldwide, Catholics united and prayed a novena to St. Francis of Assisi to ask God for the grace of our eco-conversion and to celebrate St. Francis.
Throughout Asia, Catholics hosted prayer services, photo challenges, and created tents to celebrate the 2021 Season of Creation.
In Barcelona, Spain, at the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Christian leaders, along with hundreds of the faithful, recalled our roles as “humble stewards” of God’s creation and encouraged everyone to pursue new lifestyles that help us live in harmony with God’s creation.
And in Washington, D.C., Catholics advanced efforts to bring Laudato Si’ to life during and after the Season of Creation by hosting a Laudato Si’ Mass.
3. Signing the ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ petition ahead of COP26
During the Season of Creation, urgent reminders that governments must take drastic action at COP26 were all around us in the form of stronger hurricanes and dangerous wildfires.
We also learned that 23 more species are now extinct in the U.S., a stark reminder that we must take collective action together now. Advocate for all of God’s creation by signing the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition.
Tens of thousands of people took such action by signing the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition. The petition calls on world leaders to set ambitious targets at COP26 that will help all of us protect our common home for generations.
In Nairobi, members of a Laudato Si’ Circle shared the petition’s hopeful and urgent message because they wanted to put a face on the climate crisis.
In one weekend, despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, five volunteers from the circle collected 428 signatures. The Laudato Si’ Circle has plans to do much more before COP26 begins on 31 October.
Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, also signed the petition and encouraged the faithful to join them.
WATCH: Cardinal Turkson, Archbishop Aveline sign ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ petition
4. Caring for climate refugees
The 2021 Season of Creation helped shine a light on a growing problem because of the climate crisis: climate refugees.
Since 2019, natural disasters have displaced nearly 35 million people globally. That number will likely only grow in the future as scientists have made clear that a warmer planet is likely to produce stronger hurricanes and more extreme weather, such as droughts, landslides, historic floods, and rampant wildfires.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, Under-secretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, urged all people to focus on the people, the migrants and refugees, rather than the big problem of migration.
Terms, such as migration, “distance us from the people,” Cardinal Czerny said. “It can be dangerous if we don’t talk about the human beings… the people suffering and in need of help.”
5. Historic joint appeal calls for ‘urgent, radical, and responsible action’ at COP26
Pope Francis and faith leaders closed the Season of Creation on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi as they began the ecumenical season: united in their call for governments to set ambitious targets at COP26.
His Holiness and about 40 faith leaders signed a joint appeal at the Vatican that called on governments to set ambitious targets at COP26 and take “urgent, radical, and responsible action” with young people and the most vulnerable among us in mind.
“Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert for our children,” the joint appeal stated.
“We plead with the international community gathered at COP26… to safeguard, restore, and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”
Faith leaders from other Christian faiths and Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, among others, signed the joint appeal, which was then handed to Alok Sharma, the President of COP26.
“Today shows us how we can and will turn the tide,” Sharma said, calling the appeal a “powerful call to action for the world.”
- Pope Francis, faith leaders sign joint appeal before UN climate summit
- Following St. Francis in hope and generosity
We thank our Creator God for this blessed season and for once again uniting the Christian community to care for our common home. We ask for God’s forgiveness in where we have fallen short as too many members of God’s creation suffer needlessly because of the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
We also ask God to gift us with the courage to advocate more intentionally as we seek to achieve climate justice for all of God’s creation. We also ask our Creator God to help us daily in remembering that we have been appointed the caretakers of God’s creation and that we have the ability to do right by all members of our common home. Amen.