Rome (Italy). On 7 September 2021, a joint Message for the care of Creation was made known, signed by Pope Francis, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on 1 September 2021, on the Day of Creation, as an appeal for environmental sustainability.
The Message comes on the occasion of the Season of Creation, which is celebrated from 1 September to 4 October, an opportunity to pray and care for God’s creation, and in proximity to the 26th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change of the United Nations (COP26) which will see world leaders gather in Glasgow (United Kingdom ):
“As world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow in November to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and reflect on the choices we all need to make. Therefore, as leaders of our Churches, we urge everyone, whatever their faith or worldview, to try to listen to the cry of the earth and the poor, examining their own behavior and committing themselves to make significant sacrifices for the good of the earth that God has given us”.
At the beginning of the Message, the global situation of the pandemic is recalled, in which was experienced how everything is interconnected and how personal actions affect others. The appeal “not to waste this moment” and the teachings it brings with it to look at future generations and calls for the choice to live differently, to “choose life” (cf. Dt 30:19).
The importance of sustainibility
Some passages from the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, help to take a long-term view , not to accumulate in abundance forgetting that life is limited; not to squander one’s inheritance; to build on rock instead of sand, to emphasize the concept of taking care, of individual and collective responsibility towards what God has entrusted to humanity. “This is an essential starting point for social, economic, and environmental sustainability.” Even if many do not express concern for people and the limitations of the planet, it should not be forgotten that “Nature is resilient, yet delicate”.
The impact on people living with poverty
“The current climate crisis says a lot about who we are and how we see and treat God’s creation”. In this statement we find the principle of integral ecology, expressed in the Encyclical Letter Laudato si'(LS Chap. 4), which relates the ecological dimension with the human and social dimensions. The immediate consequences of environmental disasters often fall on the poorest people, those who had less responsibility for causing them. However, this is an injustice that affects everyone. “The extreme atmospheric and natural disasters of recent months reveal to us again with great force and with great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but also a question of immediate and urgent survival”.
To protect today’s children and adolescents from more catastrophic consequences, the Church Guides make a concrete appeal to adults to, as “God’s collaborators” (Gn 2: 4-7), take on the responsibility of supporting the world:
“We often hear of young people who understand that their future is threatened. For their sake, we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest, and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interests and profits, but also of future benefits. We repent of the sins of our generation. We stand by our younger brothers and sisters all over the world in devout prayer and committed action, for a future that more and more corresponds to God’s promises”.
The imperative of cooperation
“Together” is the word that recurs most frequently in the conclusions of the Message in which it is asked to take individual responsibility for the use of resources and at the same time to walk together in the commitment to take care of Creation, towards a more just society:
“Together as communities, Churches, cities, and nations, we must change course and discover new ways of collaborating to break down the traditional barriers between peoples, to stop competing for resources, and to start collaborating”.
For the first time “together”, Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Welby address the urgency of environmental sustainability to appeal “to the heart and mind of every Christian, every believer, and every person of good will” for the future of the planet and its inhabitants, “Choose life then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:19).