Pope Francis has once again waded into ecological waters, inviting all people to pray for the environment while urging world leaders to “hear the cry of the earth.”
In a joint statement with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, the Pope decries mankind’s “propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems,” along with our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets.”
The history of the world “reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators,” the two prelates declare, and as a result humans have become “alienated” from the original purpose of creation.
“We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs,” they state.
In their dour assessment of the state of the world, the two men paint a picture of degradation and moral turpitude.
The modern worldview that views creation as a mere resource for the benefit of human beings has “tragic and lasting” consequences, the declaration states. “The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people.”
The faith leaders also point to “climate change” as the source of many of the ecological woes afflicting the planet.
“The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe,” they assert. “Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.”
The two prelates “fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September,” a day dedicated to prayer for creation. “On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations,” they announce.
“We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation,” they add.
In 2015, Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to devote an entire encyclical letter to the question of the environment.
In that letter, bearing the Italian title “Laudato Sì,” Francis similarly denounced mankind’s treatment of the planet.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he said.
“If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us,” the Pope added.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” he said.
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