The Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1. This day also marks the beginning of the "Time of Creation," a month dedicated by Catholics and Orthodox to acts of ecological conversion. The motto for this ecumenical period is "Let justice and peace flow", and the image chosen is that of a flowing river.
The Pope Francis considers that we are in a "senseless war against creation". Therefore, in his message for this Day published in May 2023, he encouraged "all followers of Christ" to work so that "our common home may once again be filled with life."
To begin the "Time of Creation", the Holy Father will participate in an ecumenical event on September 1, at the start of his apostolic journey in Mongolia. Mongolia is one of the countries most affected by the climate crisis, according to reports published by GIZ.
A month of action
The "Time of Creation" will end on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. On the same day, Pope Francis will publish an apostolic exhortation to complement the encyclical "Laudato si'". In addition, throughout the month of September, various global events will be held on a variety of themes, always with the aim of promoting "ecological conversion". Among the activities planned are an ecumenical vigil at the Vatican, the approval and promotion of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and cleanups of natural environments. More information about the events can be found on the "Laudato Si' Movement".
The celebration of this day and of the ecumenical month has its raison d'être in the "senseless war against creation" that is taking place. A contest with "victims of environmental and climate injustice," in the words of Pope Francis.
In the face of this crisis, the Holy Father suggested in his May message that "we must decide to transform our hearts, our lifestyles and the public policies that govern our society."
To this end, we need to live an authentic "ecological conversion". This implies "the renewal of our relationship with creation, so that we no longer consider it as an object to be exploited, but on the contrary, that we guard it as a sacred gift of the Creator".
To avoid getting confused amidst the terminology, Francis specified the meaning of 'creation'. This "refers to the mysterious and magnificent act of God who creates out of nothing this majestic and most beautiful planet, as well as this universe, and also to the result of this action, still in progress, which we experience as an inexhaustible gift."
This gift requires responsible behavior on our part. The Pope asked that we "collaborate in God's continuing creation through positive choices, making the most moderate use of resources, practicing joyful sobriety, eliminating and recycling waste, and turning to increasingly available products and services that are ecologically and socially responsible."
Synod of Synodality
As Francis noted in his message, the closing of the "Time of Creation" coincides with the opening of the Synod on Synodality. The Pontiff expressed his desire that the Synodal Church contribute to the care of the earth and of mankind. "As a river is a source of life for the environment that surrounds it, so our synodal Church must be a source of life for the common home and for all those who inhabit it. And as a river gives life to all kinds of animal and plant species, so a synodal Church must give life by sowing justice and peace wherever it reaches."
The Pope turned to the Holy Spirit to encourage both the initiatives in favor of the care of creation and the results of the synod, so that "he may lead us to the 'renewal of the face of the earth'" (cf. Psalm 104:30).