Pope Francis issued a statement Sept. 1 on the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in order to “renew my dialogue with ‘every person living on this planet’ about the sufferings of the poor and the devastation of the environment.”
Tying this year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy together with his continuous call for care for creation, the pope called for the addition of “care for our common home” to the traditional Works of Mercy, both spiritual and corporal.
“As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’ (Laudato Si, 214) which ‘allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us’ (ibid. 85),” he wrote. “As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world’ (ibid., 230-31).”
It’s been a little more than a year since Pope Francis released his landmark encyclical Laudato si’ (“Praise be to You”): On Care for Our Common Home.
In his statement Thursday, Pope Francis re-issued his call to take action against global warming, which “continues, due in part to human activity,” he said.
“2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still,” Pope Francis wrote. “This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”
He called the faithful to conversion “sustained particularly by the sacrament of Penance.”
“During this Jubilee Year, let us learn to implore God’s mercy for those sins against creation that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed,” he said. “Let us likewise commit ourselves to taking concrete steps towards ecological conversion, which requires a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbors, creation and the Creator (ibid., 10 and 229).”
The pope encouraged an examination of conscience and repentance for the sins the faithful have committed against creation, as well as a change in the concrete ways we live our lives, from turning off excess lighting to work to shape a sustainable society.
He called on citizens to hold their governments to the commitments made in the Paris climate change summit and through the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.
To read the entire statement, go here. For more ways to live out Pope Francis’ call to care for creation, go here. To order a copy of Laudato si, go here.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of OSV Newsweekly. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.