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Pope Francis on Prayer for Creation Day: Caring for the environment is an ‘act of love’

Pope Francis on Prayer for Creation Day: Caring for the environment is an ‘act of love’

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CNA Staff, Jun 27, 2024 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis this week called on the faithful to a conversion of heart that extends Christian charity to all of God’s creation and urged them to commit themselves to protecting the environment.

The Holy Father made the remarks as part of a papal message delivered ahead of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. That observance, established by the pope in 2015, is held on Sept. 1 every year.

Christians, the pope said, bear witness to their faith in part “by caring for the flesh of suffering humanity.” Christianity acknowledges that “everything is ordered to the glory of God,” Francis said; the spirit of “universal fraternity and Christian peace,” he argued, “should also be extended to creation.”

The Holy Spirit “guides us and calls us to conversion,” Francis said, “to a change in lifestyle in order to resist the degradation of our environment and to engagement in that social critique which is above all a witness to the real possibility of change.”

Care for creation, the pope said, is not merely an ethical issue but a theological one, one that is marked by the “act of love” in which God created human beings.

“To hope and act with creation, then, means to live an incarnational faith, one that can enter into the suffering and hope-filled ‘flesh’ of others, by sharing in the expectation of the bodily resurrection to which believers are predestined in Christ the Lord,” the pope said.

By living out this imperative, “our lives can become a song of love for God, for humanity, with and for creation, and find their fullness in holiness,” he wrote.

The theme for the 2024 day of prayer is “Hope and Act with Creation,” with the motif drawn from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

The pope said in 2015 that the day offers the faithful “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.”

The establishment of the day in 2015 was also seen as a sign of unity with the Orthodox Church, which established Sept. 1 as a day to celebrate creation in 1989.

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