By Sarah Mac Donald - 11 August, 2015
In a letter to the heads of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Pope said the move was suggested by Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, who represented the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the release of Laudato Si’, the encyclical on care for creation.
Since 2006, the Italian Catholic bishops have also marked 1 September as a day for the protection of creation.
The decision to institute the day of prayer comes ahead of a crunch UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.
In his letter, the Pontiff stated, “As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation.”
The ecological crisis, the Pope warned, calls humanity to “a profound spiritual conversion” whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.
He added, “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.”
The annual World Day of prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and 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”.