Saturday, August 31, 2019

Caring for our Common Home

Tomorrow is the 5th Annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, established by Pope Francis in 2015 as an opportunity to reaffirm our “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 well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

As Pope Francis has warned in his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home (202, 204):

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. … When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.

Beginning with Pope Benedict XVI and continuing with Pope Francis, the Holy See has taken a real lead on this issue, serving as a strong voice for the moral imperative of caring for our common home.  But the challenge "to change course" is an imperative for all at every level in Church and society.

Photo: “Earthrise,” the famous photograph of the Earth, taken from lunar orbit by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968, called "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” by Australian photographer Galen Rowell.

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