By Vatican News
As the September 1 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation kicks off the month-long Season of Creation, Pope Francis offers a profound reflection on respect for the earth, its resources, the evils caused by man and the need for “restorative justice” such as debt cancellation for poor countries.
Cries of the earth and of the poor
The Pope in his message explains that “the pandemic has brought us to a crossroads.”. “We must use this decisive moment,” he says, “to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving.” “We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”
The Pope notes that the “the cries of the earth and of the poor have become even louder and more painful in recent years”. But, he says, it is wonderful to witness how the Holy Spirit is inspiring individuals, and communities around the world to come together to protect the poor, the land and rebuild our common home and defend the most vulnerable in our midst. Young people, communities and indigenous people, he continues, are on the frontlines in responding to the ecological crisis. They are calling for a Jubilee for the earth and a new beginning, aware that “things can change”.
Rampant greed and consumption
The Pope reminds us that “we cannot live in harmony with creation if we are not at peace with the Creator who is the source and origin of all things”. The Jubilee is a time for thinking once again of our fellow human beings, especially the poor and the most vulnerable, to share the common heritage of creation in a “spirit of conviviality, not in competitive scramble but in joyful fellowship, supporting and protecting one another”.
The Jubilee is also a time to listen to the land, to hear the voice of creation and return to our rightful place in the natural created order, remembering that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters.
“The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable,” the Pope says, are a “wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption”.
A jubilee, the Pope says, is a time to set free the oppressed such as the indigenous people who face injustice and others who are subjected to various forms of modern slavery, such as trafficking in persons and child labour.
The Jubilee is also time for restorative justice, the Pope says renewing his “call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19”.
This also calls for ensuring that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels be regeneration packages. Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.