'Hear the cry of the earth,' pope and patriarch urge in ecology message

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Environmental destruction is a sign of
a “morally decaying scenario” in which too many people ignore or deny
that, from the beginning, “God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation
and protection of the natural environment,” said the leaders of the
Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Marking the Sept. 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation, Pope
Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople issued a joint

They urged government and business leaders “to respond
to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing
of our wounded creation.”

Looking at the description of the Garden of Eden from the
Book of Genesis, the pope and patriarch said, “The earth was entrusted to
us as a sublime gift and legacy.”

But, they said, “our propensity to interrupt the
world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate
and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit
in markets — all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation.”

“We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead,
we regard it as a private possession,” the two leaders said. “We no
longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it
to support our own constructs.”

Ignoring God’s plan for creation has “tragic and
lasting” consequences on both “the human environment and the natural
environment,” they wrote. “Our human dignity and welfare are deeply
connected to our care for the whole of creation.”

The pope and the patriarch said prayer is not incidental to
ecology, because “an objective of our prayer is to change the way we
perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world.”

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople established
the World Day of Prayer for Creation in 1989. In 2015, shortly after publishing
his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis established
the day of prayer for Catholics as well.

The object of Christian prayer and action for the
safeguarding of creation, the two leaders wrote, is to encourage all Christians
“to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our

Echoing remarks Pope Francis made Aug. 30 when the pontiff
announced he and the patriarch were issuing a joint message, the text included a
plea to world leaders.

“We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and
economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of
the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized,” they wrote. No
enduring solution can be found “to the challenge of the ecological crisis
and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the
responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity
and service.”

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew also highlighted how
“this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its
people,” especially the poor, in a more pronounced way.

“Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly
implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living
creatures,” they said. “The urgent call and challenge to care for
creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work toward sustainable and
integral development.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article