By Tim Macquiban
Director, Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome
(video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbYPI9tlAcE)
The liturgical celebration for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation began with the canticle from the Book of Daniel, where all of creation is called upon to praise the Lord. In addition to readings from Genesis and the Gospel of Saint Matthew, there was a reading from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato si’, which concluded with a passage from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun.
The homily during the liturgy was proclaimed by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Pontifical Household. Father Cantalamessa focused three themes taken from the readings: “Fill the earth and subdue it”; “Whether or not to be concerned for tomorrow”; and “What Saint Francis can teach us.”
Caring for creation does not mean “dominating” the world we live in, but caring for it as God the Father cares for His creation. Jesus words from the Gospel – “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” – do not imply a lack of concern for the future. They say, he said, do not worry about your future, but worry about the future of those who come after you. Finally, Saint Francis of Assisi gives us “living proof of the contribution that faith in God can give to the common effort to care for and protect the environment.”
Pope Francis concluded the Liturgy with a blessing: May your blessing act in us, O Lord, and transform us with your renewing power, so that we might be wholly disposed to the service of what is good.
Cardinal Peter Turkson has renewed the call for radical changes in thinking and attitudes towards environment, ecology and creation.
In a message delivered to the second international gathering for talks on climate change, organised by the Peruvian government in Lima, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Cardinal Turkson, invited participants “[to] assume a new ecological spirituality which favors the bond between man and environment, through an integral, ecological, community conversion.”
The 5-day event, starting on the 24th of August, is the second appointment of the COP20 forum, a global initiative which gives nations the opportunity to showcase plans to reduce carbon emissions in preparation for the Paris conference on climate change due to take place later in the year.
The forum opened with a presentation of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, which was organised by the Jesuit University Ruiz de Montoya in Lima. The opening presentation event hosted 250 people, including experts, policy makers and religious leaders, who offered analysis of the Pope’s encyclical from a scientific, economic, political and theological perspective.
In his message, Cardinal Turkson expressed the hope that this second conference dedicated to environmental emergency might promote a “deeper ecological conversion, able to reflect itself in the different aspects of human life: in one’s lifestyle, education, in the dialogue between science, culture and faith, and in national politics and international negotiations.”
He concluded his message citing the last words of Pope Francis’ encyclical: “To re-establish harmony with Creation, people ought to reflect on their lifestyles and ideals, in order to contemplate the Creator, who lives in us and in what surrounds us.”