Tag Archives: Laudato Si

Care of Creation Day of Prayer

Tomorrow, September 1st, will be the first “Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.” Or at least it will be for us, our Orthodox brothers and sisters have been celebrating this day for some time. This ecumenical move was put forward by Pope Francis following his recent Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’  on the Care of our Common Home.

Globe

This papal teaching was hailed as one of the most significant documents in a life time and, when published, cause of flurry of comment in both religious and social circles. However, even though it presents the care of the environment as a moral issue, a human issue, a religious issue and  a social issue effecting all elements of our lives, it seems to have been forgotten and passed to one side. Indeed, a recent poll in the USA showed that only 40% of US Catholics had even heard of the document and, out of all adults, only 39% felt climate change was a moral issue.

Perhaps this day is one in which is long overdue and when we can all make a renewed effort to take the pope’s words to heart and to look towards better care for our planet, and thus each other.

Here is the text of the letter from Pope Francis establishing the day of prayer.

To my Venerable Brothers

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Cardinal Kurt KOCH, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

Sharing with my beloved brother the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew his concerns for the future of creation (cfr Encylical Letter. Laudato Si, 7-9) and taking up the suggestion by his representative, the Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum who took part in the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato Si on the care of our common home, I wish to inform you that I have decided to set up also in the Catholic Church, the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which, beginning this year, will be celebrated on the 1st of September, as the Orthodox Church has done for some time now.

As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.  Therefore, first of all we must draw from our rich spiritual heritage the reasons which feed our passion for the care of creation, always remembering that for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for us, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” (ibid., 216).   The ecological crisis therefore calls 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).  Thus, “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.”(ibid).

The annual World Day of prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.  The celebration of the 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.   We live in a time where all Christians are faced with identical and important challenges and we must give common replies to these in order to appear more credible and effective.  Therefore it is my hope that this Day can involve, in some way, other Churches and ecclesial Communities and be celebrated in union with the initiatives that the World Council of Churches is promoting on this issue.

Cardinal Turkson, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,  I asking you to inform the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences, as well as the national and international Organizations involved in environmental issues about the establishment of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, so that in union with the needs and the local situation , this celebration can be rightly marked with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful.  For this reason, it will be the task of this Dicastery, in collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences to set up relevant initiatives to promote and illustrate this Day, so that this annual celebration becomes a powerful moment of prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate life styles.

Cardinal Koch, as President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, I’m asking you to make the necessary contacts with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and with the other ecumenical organisations so that this World Day can become the sign of a path along all believers in Christ walk together.  It will also be your Dicastery’s task to take care of the coordination with similar initiatives set up by the World Council of Churches.

Whilst I look forward to the widest possible cooperation for the best start and development of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, I invoke the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation.  I support this pledge along with my Apostolic Blessing which I impart with all my heart to you, my dear Cardinals, and to all those who collaborate in your ministry.

From the Vatican, 6th August 2015

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Advertisements

Lauadto sii mi Signore!

It’s finally here – the long awaited Papal Encyclical Letter, LAUADTO SI’, by Pope Francis, on the Care for Our Common Home has been published!

pope-environment

The opening few statements tell it as it is:
“In the words of this beautiful canticle (Laudato sii), Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life…This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. …Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet…..” Follow the links below to see what the pope has to say

To download/read a copy for yourself follow this link: http://catholicnews.org.uk/laudato-si-download

Or, if you just want a brief synopsis of the work, then this is the link for you: http://catholicnews.org.uk/laudato-si-summary-download

Why Francis and Benedict have one Green mind.

Later this week the Church expects to receive Pope Francis’ latest encyclical letter celled “Laudato Si – on the environment.” Here’s a interesting article that shows Pope Francis’ thinking is really nothing radical, but an extension of what Pope Benedict started.

pope-environment

Mythology and media narratives to the contrary, Pope Francis has far more in common with Pope Benedict XVI than whatever separates them. Francis probably could be better understood as “Benedict 2.0,” supplying a warmer and more populist package for the same basic positions espoused by his more cerebral predecessor.

The release on Thursday of Pope Francis’ highly anticipated encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si, may well be the latest proof of the point.

First of all, it’s hardly as if embracing the cause of fighting climate change, saving the rainforests, and otherwise protecting the environment is somehow a break with Benedict. On the contrary, Benedict was famously the pope who installed solar panels atop a Vatican audience hall and signed an agreement to make the Vatican Europe’s first carbon-neutral state in order to back up his strong ecological concerns.

In a speech to the German parliament in 2011 – a speech, by the way, that probably meant more to the German pontiff than most he delivered during his eight-year reign – Benedict said the rise of Germany’s Green movement in the 1970s was “a cry for fresh air, a cry that cannot be ignored or put aside.”

Yet Benedict also tried to paint a distinctly Catholic shade of green in the way he approached environmental questions, and Francis recently provided a hint he’s thinking the same way.

In brief comments to reporters aboard the papal plane returning from last Saturday’s trip to Bosnia, Francis said his forthcoming environmental encyclical will deal, among other topics, with relativism, which he described as a “cancer of society.” (In the same breath, Francis also called consumerism a “cancer.”)

Relativism is a philosophical position that holds there are no absolute moral rules, because everything is relative to particular circumstances and individuals. At the popular level, it refers to an “anything goes” morality opposed to traditional Catholic teaching.

It might seem odd for Francis to use an environmental tract to bring up a debate over moral philosophy, but that’s where understanding the mind of Benedict XVI helps.

For Benedict, secular environmentalism is the most promising route for recovery of a strong sense of “natural law,” meaning the idea that right and wrong, truth and falsehood, are real qualities which exist in nature, and which human beings can discover using their reason and conscience.

Many Catholic thinkers, prominently including Benedict XVI, worry that natural law has been supplanted in the popular mind either by relativism or by positivism, the idea that moral rules are imposed by human authority and thus more akin to the speed limit than to gravity – something invented, instead of being given in nature.

Benedict believes that environmentalism is leading people back to the idea of natural law, because it proves that limits on what human beings can do without paying a price aren’t just arbitrary but absolutely, objectively real.

“Everyone can see today that … we can’t simply do whatever we want with this earth that has been entrusted to us, we have to respect the inner laws of creation, of this earth, if we want to survive,” Benedict said in 2007.

From there, Benedict said, we may learn to listen to human nature as well, discovering moral laws that stand above our own ego. Benedict called all this a “secular path” to the formation of conscience.

His comments on relativism last Saturday indicate Francis is likely to make a similar point, treating environmentalism not just as an important social cause, but also a moral teaching moment.

One could go on cataloguing the links between Francis and Benedict. This week, for instance, Francis devoted one of his morning homilies to insisting that Christians must not “weaken or water down” their identity, warning against the influence of “modern Gnostics” and an “insipid religion of just prayers and ideas.”

Through the history of salvation, Francis said, God has led the Church progressively from “ambiguities” to “certainties.” Close your eyes, and you easily could have believed you were hearing Benedict XVI.

In most of the ways that matter, what’s changed from Benedict to Francis isn’t the lyrics, but the music. Instead of Wagner, people today seem to hear a saucy Latin rhythm when the pope speaks, often making the message easier to take.

Last week, for example, Francis met the bishops of Puerto Rico in the Vatican, presenting them with a speech blasting gay marriage and “gender theory” in exactly the same terms Benedict XVI would have used. Francis did it, however, while inviting the bishops to join him for lunch, joking that “a little wine will loosen the tongue and you can tell me the truth.”

The real difference between the two pontiffs may lie in reach and effectiveness, not content. Francis has succeeded in convincing a wide swath of people, especially those outside the Church, that he values their experiences and cares about their perspectives. That impression makes them more inclined to view his take on things with sympathy rather than skepticism.

Warmth, in other words, isn’t just about packaging and tone. It also translates into power, meaning the ability to shape opinion and to win hearts and minds where others have failed.

Laudato Si seems destined to be the latest chapter in this bond between Benedict and Francis, with the key question being whether Francis’ more enchanting presentation once again allows his “2.0” version of the message to pack a greater punch.