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Pope Francis Highlights Justice and Care for Creation

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Pope Francis has underscored the significance of justice as a virtue in his message for the upcoming World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The message, released on May 25, emphasizes that justice is as essential to human life as water is for physical survival.

The pope stated, "God wants justice to reign; it is as essential to our life as God's children, made in his likeness, as water is essential for our physical survival." He called for everyone to strive for justice in all situations, living according to God's laws and enabling life to flourish. By prioritizing a right relationship with God, humanity, and nature, justice and peace can flow abundantly, nourishing all of creation.

The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was established by Pope Francis in 2015 and is celebrated annually on September 1. This ecumenical day of prayer signifies unity with the Orthodox Church and marks the beginning of the Season of Creation, observed from September 1 to October 4, coinciding with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

The theme for the 2023 Season of Creation is "Let Justice and Peace Flow," inspired by the words of the prophet Amos: "Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."

Pope Francis's message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was released during Laudato Si' Week, which commemorates the eighth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si', the pope's landmark encyclical on the environment.

In his message, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of a heart transformation as the first step toward caring for creation. This "ecological conversion," as encouraged by St. John Paul II, involves renewing our relationship with creation, no longer viewing it as an object to exploit but cherishing it as a sacred gift from our Creator.

The pope employed water imagery throughout his message, drawing attention to our contribution to the "mighty river of justice and peace." He urged individuals to change their lifestyles and repent of their "ecological sins," aligning with the call of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. This includes reducing waste production and consumption, practicing mindfulness in habits and economic choices, using resources with moderation and sobriety, promoting recycling, and embracing sustainable options.

Pope Francis also referenced his visit to Canada, specifically recalling his time on the shores of Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta, a place of pilgrimage for indigenous people. He invited people to reflect on their role in contributing to justice and peace, envisioning themselves as part of a greater movement working towards these goals.

Regarding public policies, Pope Francis urged world leaders participating in COP28, the U.N. climate change conference, to listen to science and initiate a rapid and equitable transition to end the fossil fuel era. He emphasized the need to raise voices against the injustice faced by the poor and future generations, who will bear the brunt of climate change's effects.

Pope Francis's message highlights the intrinsic connection between justice and caring for creation, calling for a transformation of hearts, responsible individual actions, and a collective commitment to just and sustainable policies.

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