September 1 marked the inauguration of a World Day of Prayer for Creation as part of Pope Francis’ prophetic stance on tackling climate change. This week he took it one step further by adding “care for our common home” to the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy which were traditionally limited to those practical and spiritual actions found in the teachings of Jesus.
This change is significant, as traditionally the works of mercy were seen as individual acts of goodness and charity towards others. By adding “care for our common home”, Pope Francis asks people to consider their complicity in immoral acts against creation and the subsequent impact on the poor and most vulnerable. By doing so, he widens out the definition of mercy to include solidarity with God’s suffering earth.
In his address for World Day of Prayer for Creation, Pope Francis strongly states:
“We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behavior. ‘Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.’ (Laudato Si #33)”
He also connects climate change as a contributing factor in the global refugee crisis, caused by droughts, floods and severe weather.
The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas have long-campaigned for care of the earth as a justice issue and include it as one of their Critical Concerns. I would encourage you to find out more.
Spend some time this week contemplating your own impact on creation and seek one small way of treading more lightly on God’s beautiful earth.