Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople have made a joint appeal on the occasion of the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation observed in September 1, 2017. Their appeal is to have the courage to embrace “greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives” to overcome the generalized “moral decay” of humanity, which deteriorates Creation by manipulation, domination, greed and control.
On 1 September 2017, the Pope and the Patriarch co-signed, for the first time, a message for this Day instituted in 2015 by Pope Francis in connection with the Orthodox, who have observed this Day for a number of years.
In the text published simultaneously by the Vatican and the Phanar at 8:00 am Roman time, they lament the “moral decay” in the attitude of humanity, which “deteriorates” Creation. They denounce the “propensity to break the fragile and delicate ecosystems of the world,” an “insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources,” and “greed for unlimited market profits.”
“All this has distanced us from the original end of Creation,” they deplore.
“We no longer respect nature as a gift to be shared; rather, we look at it as a great private possession. We no longer associate ourselves to nature in order to maintain it, rather, we dominate it so that it supports our own constructions.” In face of the “tragic and durable” consequences of this “deterioration of the planet,” which weighs on the most vulnerable of its inhabitants,” the Pope and the Patriarch exhort to “be courageous to embrace greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.”
They stress the “obligation to use the goods of the earth with responsibility,” and they invite “all persons of good will to observe a time of prayer for the environment on September 1.”
Finally, they launch “an urgent appeal to those that have social and economic, as well as political and cultural responsibilities, to hear the cry of the earth and to provide for the needs of the marginalized but, above all, to respond to the demand of millions of people and support the consensus of the whole world to heal our wounded Creation.” They emphasize that “a concerted and collective response” is necessary and the need to “give priority to solidarity and to service.”