Catholics and Orthodox collaborating on caring for creation

The heads of the Catholic and Orthodox churches will publish a joint message later today about caring for creation.

Pope Francis says he and “our dear brother Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople” prepared the message together to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Francis says their message invites everyone to take a respectful, responsible attitude towards creation.

He said he and Bartholomew “also appeal to all who occupy influential roles, to listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer most from ecological imbalances.”

The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was started by the Orthodox Church in 1989 by Bartholomew’s predecessor, Patriarch Demetrios I.

In 2015, Bartholomew’s personal envoy, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, spoke at the presentation of Laudato si’, Francis’s encyclical on the environment. In the encyclical, Francis praises Bartholomew’s work for the environment.

Zizioulas suggested that all the Christian churches start marking the day together, as an ecumenical gesture.

Later that year Francis instituted the world day of prayer for the Catholic Church.

At that time he said the world day of prayer would should be a time for individuals and communities 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.”

For Christians to contribute to safeguarding creation, Francis says they must rediscover the spiritual foundations of their approach to what exists on earth.

He says this begins with acknowledging “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature,” but lived in communion with all worldly realities.


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