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Joint message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for World Day of Prayer for Creation

VATICAN (SE): While joint statements from popes and ecumenical patriarchs have a longish history, the most recent one signed by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is the first expressing the concern for the well-being of creation held by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. 
Released on the World Day of Prayer for Creation marked on September 1, the two religious leaders issued an appeal to all people to look at the state of the environment of our world today with alarm, and have mercy upon both the natural environment and the poorest of the poor who are suffering the most from the negative consequences of its destruction.
The straightforward language of the message, the absence of non-inclusive language and modern literary style indicate that the message is addressed to all people of good will and an appeal to all and sundry to heed its caution.
The World Day of Prayer for Creation was first celebrated by the Orthodox Churches and in 2015 at the launch of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’), a guest speaker from the Orthodox Church made the suggestion that all Christian Churches combine to make it an across the board day of prayer.
The suggestion from Metropolitan Zizsioulas was at once taken up by Pope Francis and the World Council of Churches was quick to come on board.
Pope Francis described it as an opportunity for Christian communities to reaffirm their vocation as stewards of the earth and give thanks to God for the handiwork of his creation.
He added that it is also a day to repent and beg forgiveness for the sins of humankind committed against the natural environment.
“The celebration of this day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters,” the pope wrote at the time.
“We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective. It is my hope that this day will in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesial communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches,” the pope continued.
The Presbyterian Church posted a prayer for its worldwide communities, saying, “Holy and gracious God, you create, redeem and sustain this world. You call it good, and indeed it is.”
The prayer continues, “Help us to enjoy creation as you enjoy it and to glorify you through our efforts to care better for it. We know we have fallen short of the invitation you make to humankind to serve and preserve this garden, and we ask for your Spirit to accompany us as we work to embody that call.
“May your power, presence and love be felt throughout all creation and in all people and all creatures. May we be part of witnessing to your love, throughout the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray,” it concludes.
The Presbyterian Church also stresses that while prayer is essential, it is also vital that we act and calls on its members to take positive strides in reducing their carbon footprint.
Speaking the truth about the facts of human-made ecological destruction is one way of marking this special day of prayer, especially in the face of the many world and business leaders who want to downplay them or even deny them.
Our prayer should not be based on half-truths or we may be grasping the empty end of a half-full glass of water. To quote the Pray Tell blog, asking God to stop the surge of water in low lying areas is a bit like asking him to stop the rising water in the bath when the tap is running.
Click here for message: On World Day of Prayer for Creation

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