Pope Francis has instituted an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated on 1 September.
Announced in a letter to Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, the Pope reaffirmed part of our responsibility as Christians is to resolve today’s ecological crisis. He said we must first rediscover in our own ‘rich spiritual patrimony’ the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation and how Jesus lived in the world.
Referring to Laudato Si’, Francis said, ‘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,’ (217). The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.
‘We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective’. He noted his hope that this day will ‘in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesiastical Communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches’.
Pope Francis cited the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, and of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures, he said, ‘inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation’.