By Sarah Mac Donald - 01 September, 2019
“We all have our part to play in caring for our common home,” Bishop John Arnold of Salford has said in a message for today’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
In light of the fires in the Amazon rainforest, the Bishop, who is chairman of CAFOD, the Catholic Church’s aid and development agency in Britain, also prays for those in positions of power and influence to be effective “guardians of God’s creation”.
Bishop Arnold stresses that this also includes everyone who exercises influence as a consumer.
“We also pray for those who are involved in the preparations for the Synod on the Amazon, that their discussions will be fruitful in highlighting the challenges faced in the region and bringing more people to the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Referring to the recent statement by the bishops of England and Wales, “Guardians of God’s Creation”, which calls for a Christian spirituality of ecology and a new lifestyle, beginning in personal and family life, Dr Arnold explains that Sunday 1 September marks World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
This day of prayer was instituted in the Catholic Church in 2015 by Pope Francis, although it has been celebrated in the Orthodox church since 1989.
It also marks the start of the Season of Creation, which unites Christians in prayer and action for the protection of our common home.
The Season of Creation ends on 4 October, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
“During this season we are encouraged to deepen our relationship with God, our neighbour and the earth we share, being ever more attentive to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor,” he explains.
In “Guardians of God’s Creation” the bishops of England and Wales return to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ as they highlight the urgency of the current environmental crisis.
The earth, they write, “cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our own irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
They encourage individuals, families and communities to find more environmentally sustainable solutions.
For example, Catholic churches and schools are gradually moving away from fossil fuels by switching to renewable gas and electricity. More than 4500 Catholic churches and schools have switched to renewable gas and electricity in one of the UK’s largest combined green energy contracts.
The deal was signed with the Catholic Church’s energy procurement group, Inter-diocesan Fuel Management (IFM), which includes 2800 churches from 20 of the 22 Catholic dioceses in England and Wales, and includes Westminster, Nottingham and Plymouth cathedrals.
The contract also covers more than 2200 schools, care homes and community centres across Britain.
The bishops also invite Catholic communities to share their stories of successful environmental projects such as keeping a community garden, installing bike racks, going plastic free, finding innovative ways to reduce waste or planting a tree.
Resources for the Season of Creation, which continues until 4 October 2019, have been provided by the Irish bishops and can be found here: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2019/07/17/season-of-creation-2019/.