Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has today welcomed the joint message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the third World Day of Prayer for Creation which is celebrated across the world today, Friday 1 September. Welcoming the message Bishop McAreavey said, “we must consciously celebrate the joy of creation, the beauty of our natural world and its immense physical and spiritual treasure.”
Bishop McAreavey also welcomed the Season of Creation which begins today and continues until 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Welcoming the joint message, Bishop McAreavey said, “Christian communities across the world and increasingly here in Ireland are actively celebrating the joy of creation during this Season. And ‘celebrating the joy of creation’ is a term I use deliberately, even at this time of terrible flooding here in Ireland, in Donegal, Derry, and Tyrone and across South Asia and the Southern United States.
“I warmly welcome the joint message issued today from Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in which they remind us that the earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy.
“Here in Ireland, living in a land of such outstanding beauty and in a mild, if damp, climate, one can sometimes take for granted the gift of the natural world. But we must consciously celebrate the joy of creation, the beauty of our natural world and its immense physical and spiritual treasure. Because without so doing, we can all too quickly acquiesce to the destruction of the environment through laziness, thoughtlessness or greed; in the words of John Paul II, we can all too easily see ‘no other meaning in [the] natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption’.
“In practical terms, in this Season of Creation, we must reflect on how our actions show care or contempt for our common home; we must reflect on how our actions protect and enhance the lives of the people with whom we share this wonderful world. In the words of Pope Francis: We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality: ‘Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated’ (LS 92).”
Bishop McAreavey continued, “Our actions here in Ireland impact the lives of our brothers and sisters both at home and across the world. Trócaire, the Bishops’ overseas development agency which encounters the reality of environmental destruction across the globe has produced a range of resources to help Church communities in Ireland explore these crucial issues.
“Our dependence on fossil fuels, our excessive consumption, our increasing pollution of land, sea and sky, and the continued extinction of species of plants and animals, are all in some senses acts of disbelief. We must be unequivocal: actions which contribute to the destruction of this world that we share with our sisters and brothers are profoundly immoral, precisely because such actions destroy what is common to all of us: this beautiful world. To protect the environment is to love my neighbour, at home but also in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and in the US.
“In Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on care for our common home, the Holy Father reminds us that the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption, are essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the natural environment. These attitudes also attune us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us. If we can overcome individualism, we will truly be able to develop a different lifestyle and bring about significant changes in society. (LS 208)
“I pray that we can live such a life inspired by God’s love for us, that is evident in what we see, feel, hear, smell, touch and sense in the glorious world around us. During the Season of Creation, I encourage you to reflect, act and enjoy our beautiful country and see it for what it is: an extraordinary yet fragile gift.”
Pope Francis declared September 1 as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2015 and celebrated a special Liturgy of the Word in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark its first occurrence.
The Orthodox Church has commemorated the Day since 1989.
In the letter instituting the Day for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said, “The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to 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.”