Bishops urge to listen to the call of the earth during the season of creation

WASHINGTON — Stressing that heeding God’s call to discipleship is an integral part of faith, the chairmen of two U.S. Episcopal committees urged people to also heed the call of the earth during the observance of the Day World of Prayer for the Safeguarding of Creation.

The day of September 1 is reserved for Christian churches and believers to reflect on the gift of creation. It launches the Season of Creation, which runs until October 4, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.

“We must learn the art of listening to sustain our faith, lest we end up among those, as the Old Testament prophets wrote, ‘who have ears but hear not.’ We must also learn the art of listening to protect the environment,” said the September 1 statement from Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Justice and Human Development, and of Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Ill., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The bishops cited Pope Francis’ invitation to reflect on the season’s theme, “Hear the voice of creation,” as an important starting point in recognizing the vital need to protect the environment.

“With particular attention, the Holy Father rightly identifies a dissonance in the world, also resoundingly true in the United States. The beauty of the natural world and the harmony that comes from the integrity of creation speaks to us,” the Bishops said.

“Yet we also hear the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’, with the ‘little ones’ being hurt by a throwaway culture fueled by greed, overconsumption, technocratic power and indifference. We continue to experience the destructive force of natural disasters, floods, fires and heat waves and the resulting suffering for people, animals and ecosystems,” they said.

The Prelates suggested that despite these challenges, by listening carefully “we can also capture the sound of hope that emerges from our collective actions to protect the creation, perhaps surprisingly, of our national politics and at the within our pilgrim church”.

Citing Pope Francis’ invitation in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship”, to “a better kind of politics”, the bishops said the pope was implicitly calling for “a better kind of” eco-politics” that protects rather than exploits the environment and green ideologies for partisan ends.

Hopeful responses to the pope’s invitation came in several ways, the bishops said. They highlighted the synodal process that involves mutual listening that is taking place throughout the Church worldwide in preparation for the 2023 World Synod of Bishops on Synodality.

The statement also noted the US bishops’ adoption last November of new socially responsible investment guidelines and that the section on climate-related concerns had the most revisions.

They also summarized actions taken by other entities, such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, member agencies of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Rural Life and Catholic Relief Services for their work to address environmental concerns.

Additionally, Bishop Coakley and Bishop Malloy referenced the efforts of “liberal and conservative lawmakers who share concerns about both the global climate and the well-being of our nation.”

“They do the hard work of considering bipartisan policies that can preserve the environment, promote energy security and grow the economy. We pray now and in the future, both sides will continue to put forward their best environmental policies and work together to protect “our common home which God has entrusted to us,” the bishops said, quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical “ Laudato Si’, on caring for our common home.

While such efforts give the Bishops hope, they said the actions are “far from sufficient to meet the challenges of our time.” They also spoke of the need to guard against “complacency and pride” by participating “in a faith that listens, ever aware of God’s action preceding and augmenting our own efforts.”

“This Season of Creation,” the Bishops concluded, “we give thanks to professionals and ordinary citizens who work to protect the environment and promote the common good.”

Comments are closed.