[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A trio of pan-European church bodies have endorsed the upcoming World Day of Prayer for Creation and the Season of Creation that follows it. The Roman Catholic Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), the ecumenical Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) have issued a joint statement calling for “common prayers and to strengthen ecumenical work to care for creation.”
“According to the Gospel, responsibility for the environment can never be detached from responsibility for other human beings: for our neighbour, for the poor, or the forgotten, all in a true spirit of solidarity and love,” the churches say. “Respecting creation means not only protecting and safeguarding the earth, water and other parts of the natural world. It is at the same time expressing respect for human beings who share those gifts and bear responsibility for them. Therefore, together with all Christians, we endeavour joyfully to witness Jesus Christ, ‘for in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth’”
In the statement, signed by Father Heikki Huttunen, the general secretary of CEC; Monsignor Duarte da Cunha, the general secretary of CCEE; and the Revd Dr Peter Pavlovic, secretary of ECEN, they say that the Time for Creation, from 1 September to the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on 4 October, is a special period in the liturgical calendars in a growing number of Churches.
“In this period we remember the gift of creation and our relation to it. Celebration of this time and its place in the cycle of Christian prayers and worships was commended by the third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu 2007. The European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) has been instrumental in promoting and encouraging Christians to pray together in spirit of ecumenical cooperation and to promoting action to care for Creation.”
They continue: “We face urgently challenges of environmental degradation and climate change, and encouraged by the words of Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter Laudato si’ acknowledge our shared responsibility. We warmly invite all European Christians, member churches of CEC and bishops’ conferences of CCEE, parishes and Church communities and every person of good will to join in Time for Creation, to celebrate Time for Creation together, within your own liturgical traditions and to uphold the common Christian faith in God the creator.”
The three groups have published a prayer which they ask Christians to join in praying together:
O Lord, teach us to care for the whole Creation,
to protect all life and to share the fruits of the earth.
Teach us to share our human work with our brothers and sisters,
especially with the poor and those in need.
Grant us to remain faithful to your Gospel
as to joyfully offer to our society in different countries across the continent
the horizon of a better future
filled with justice, peace, love and beauty.