Pope demands end to ‘senseless war against Creation’
May 25, 2023
Pope Francis called upon world leaders and Christians to “put an end to the senseless war against creation,” in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
In his message the Pope calls upon the faithful to transform their hearts, their lifestyles, and the public policies of their nations, in order to avoid what he portrays as a calamitous destruction of natural resources.
Denouncing the exploitation of natural resources, particularly by the affluent nations of the industrialized world, the Pope writes: “It is clear that the richer nations have contracted an ‘ecological debt’ that must be paid.” He says that the violation of the environment is a leading cause of other injustices, saying: “Economic policies that promote scandalous wealth for a privileged few and degrading conditions for many others, spell the end of peace and justice.”
Pope Francis himself established the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2015, to be celebrated each year on September 1. The papal statement for the 2023 observation was released by the Vatican on May 25.
At the start of his message, the Pope recalls that during his visit to Canada last July, he stood on the shores of Lac Ste Anne, which had been “a place of pilgrimage for many generations of indigenous people.” He said that the pounding of drums by the tribal representatives gathered there reminded him of “the maternal heartbeat of the earth.” The Pope continued:
Just as the hearts of babies in the womb beat in harmony with those of their mothers, so in order to grow as people, we need to harmonize our own rhythms of life with those of creation, which gives us life.
The theme for this year’s World Day of Prayer is “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” Pope Francis devotes much of his message to the image of a river, which gathers waters from small streams into a major source, nourishing all forms of life. He laments that many rivers are drying up—a phenomenon that he attributes to human misuse of water resources.
Toward the end of his message, the Pope applies the same imagery of river water to the preparation for the Synod on Synodality. The lengthy process of local, diocesan, and regional consultations, he said, reflected the way rain water is collected in little creeks, and flows into larger streams, until—with the Synod—it creates “majestic rivers of reflection and renewal.”
At a Vatican press conference introducing the papal statement, Cardinal Michael Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, called attention to some of the more controversial policy issues addressed in the document. He noted that:
… the Holy Father openly denounces “predatory industries” and “extreme practices such as fracking for oil and gas extraction, unchecked mega-mining projects, and intensive animal farming.” Instead of being “mighty” and “healing”, so many rivers are polluted, flooding, or drying up. They testify starkly to corporate greed, corruption, galloping consumerism, and failed governance.
At the same Vatican press conference, Rev. Rachel Mash, the environmental coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, stressed the need for an ecumenical approach to environmental work. She said: “We are not mourners at the deathbed of creation, we are midwives at the birth of a renewed earth.”
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- Message of the Holy Father Francis for the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Vatican press office)
- Pope appeals for a renewal of our relationship with Creation (Vatican News)
- Press Conference to present the Message of the Holy Father Francis on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Vatican press office)
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