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Bishop Chairmen Issue Reflection on World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation

Posted on September 02, 2023 in: News, Reflections

Bishop Chairmen Issue Reflection on World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation

WASHINGTON - Each year on September 1, the Catholic Church commemorates the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This day of prayer also marks the beginning of a month-long ecumenical awareness initiative known as the “Season of Creation,” which concludes on October 4 with the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology.

The theme chosen for this year’s Season of Creation is “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” and it calls on the faithful to reflect on the relationship between justice and creation. Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace issued a reflection which may be found below: 

 

Statement on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Archbishop Borys Gudziak
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop David J. Malloy
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 1, 2023
“Let Justice and Peace Flow”


On this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Pope Francis invites us to reflect on
the relationship between justice and creation. Inspired by the scriptures, “let justice flow on like
a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24), the power, simplicity, and clarity
of water offers a vivid metaphor. In so doing, the Holy Father recounts our foundational starting
point: we must “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). With our souls rightly ordered
to His Kingdom through the waters of baptism, we can properly order our relationship to others
and to His creation.
The geography and history of the United States predispose us to recognize the image of
divine blessings expressed as flowing waters. Countless rivers and watersheds grace the North
American continent, such as the Mississippi, Missouri, Columbia, Rio Grande, Colorado, Great
Lakes and St. Lawrence and numerous others, connecting the United States to its immediate
neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Furthermore, our nation is bound by the Pacific, Atlantic and
Arctic oceans, sources of life, economic wellbeing, biodiversity, recreation, inspiration, and
beauty.
The abundant waterways of our country have brought productive farms and flourishing
urbanizations. Yet along with economic prosperity and ingenuity, our waterways have been filled
with pollution, contamination, and garbage bringing injustice to peoples, creatures, and
ecosystems.
We must change! Pope Francis invites us to “transform our hearts, our lifestyles, and
the public policies [to] contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace in this Season of
Creation.”
Beginning with our hearts, guided by the Holy Spirit, may the powerful imagery of water
inspire us towards ecological conversion.2 Any true conversion has its beginning and end in God
himself; it is God, through the saving work of His Son, who converts. Like water, the irresistible
current of the Holy Spirit can help make space and find silence so that God can act within us.
This Season of Creation let us seek slowness and silence so that prayer can more readily flow.
Rather than overly relying on “things that are faster and faster...We need a Church that kindles
hearts and warms them.”
When it comes to our lifestyles, consider the simplicity of water. Pope Benedict XVI
warned of the danger of “a sort of ‘superdevelopment’ of a wasteful and consumerist kind” that
is scandalous in a world where “glaring inequalities” persist.4 In the United States, with our vast
economy, we face a perennial temptation to live beyond our needs. Yet with income gaps
between rich and poor growing wider, so many brothers and sisters lack the basics. It is not
wrong to seek prosperity and to enjoy the pleasures of things—we are called to “till and keep”
(Gen 2:15) the earth after all. An ecological lifestyle is not about pauperism or austerity, but an
invitation to modesty and simplicity that increases our freedom to live as we ought regardless of
our economic means. To live simply allows both the poor and rich to share in a common
solidarity with each other and with creation, remembering where all resources ultimately come
from. During this Season of Creation, let us consider our lifestyle choices and foster greater
generosity towards those who have less.
Finally, we are called to seek environmental justice in public policy. The ecological
conversion of hearts and changes in lifestyles are important for us as individuals and our
holiness, but it is the public policy decisions about collective impacts that will significantly
change the course of our environmental future. The political dimension of public life is essential
for integral ecology, and we must be engaged in civic life as people of faith.
We must pursue rapid decarbonization - “an energy revolution” - to seriously address
climate change, yet without doing so on the backs of the poor and under-privileged.
injustice here is two-fold. First, the poor suffer the most from climate change and natural
disasters, and, deprived of the many goods provided by energy-intense (and historically high
carbon-emitting) economies, have less resources to adapt. Second, energy-poor nations are
increasingly lorded over with conditions to provide basic energy while the world transitions
away from fossil fuels.6 We recognize this pursuit takes place amidst the complex threats of an
increasingly multipolar world, with wars and threat of wars and other critical considerations of
justice to our common home and the most vulnerable. This dilemma cries out for greater
discernment and action to address to both “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” With
humility and hope, may this serve to call us to a deeper abiding prayer for “thy Kingdom come
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Recalling the Holy Father’s inspiration from the prophet Amos, let us remain steadfast in
light of the unfailing justice and righteousness set before us. As we prepare for the Ecumenical
Synod this year, praying the Holy Spirit will guide the People of God, may we be of one Spirit,
one people, caring for our one “common home.”


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