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World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has invited all people to hold a Day of Prayer for Creation between September 1st to October 4th which is the feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of creation. The Pope’s letter is available online, as well as the model of a prayer service on Creation prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome. In addition to that, I wish to draw your attention to a guided Rosary for praying for creation which can be found here: https://franciscanaction.org/sites/default/files/C4C%20Guided%20Rosary
It is appropriate for us that the official beginning of prayer campaign for creation coincides with the beginning of Spring season in our part of the world. The budding trees, the blooming flowers and the greenery that is beginning to appear in the valleys, are a starting point to talk about the beauty of nature and to be aware that we are destroying it.
The issue of negative effects of the destruction of creation may seem irrelevant to the experience of our people who are concerned with issues of daily survival, than the luxury of “the beauty of creation”. In his letter, however, the Pope rightly points out that it is exactly the poor, more than the rich who will be negatively impacted by the effects of the destruction of creation. He observes that “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events”.
These conditions will make people unable to produce adequate food which will lead to people migrating to other places as “food refugees”. The scramble to survive under low or nonexistent supply of food will lead to tensions between the locals and the refugees. Soon we will be challenged with what on face value will be manifesting as xenophobia, when in fact it will be a struggle for survival between the local poor people and poor refugees.
So the issue of climate change is of great concern for the poor, therefore the poor must play their part in discussions that will bring about a positive change because they are also involved. As the Pope insightfully observes “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage, we are called to acknowledge our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”. Therefore the call to conversion that the Pope makes applies to both, the rich and the poor alike, for we are all responsible for the destroyed state of the earth, even if with varying levels of responsibility.
For this reason the Pope tells us that the lack of care for creation is material for confession, which “after a serious examination of conscience and moved by sincere repentance, we can confess our sins against the Creator, against creation, and against our brothers and sisters”. He further reminds us that such sincere confession must be accompanied by a firm resolve of amendment that must “translate into concrete ways of thinking and acting that are more respectful of creation”.
Quoting from his Encyclical Laudato Si’, (211 212,222), the Pope points out to us what those concrete actions of amendment include: “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices”. He exhorts us not to “think that these efforts are too small to improve our world. They call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread and encourage a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption”.
He further makes reference to sustainable development goals that were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and the Paris agreement on climate change at the end of the same year to halt the rise of the global temperature. In regard to these, he calls on the citizens to ensure that their respective governments honour and implement these agreements.
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka
Bishop of Mthatha