VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - An ecumenical "Season of Creation" begins this week, promoted by Catholic leaders.
The "Season of Creation" is promoted annually by the World Council of Churches (WCC) — an ecumenical organization consisting of Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. It kicked off Tuesday with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and runs until Oct. 4.
Plus, in 2015, Pope Francis called on the Catholic Church to join the Sept. 1 ecological prayer day.
This year's "Season of Creation" has as its theme "Jubilee for the Earth," because it is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which was celebrated in 1970.
The values of Season of Creation go back to the roots of the Christian faith. Creation is a gift of God for mankind and for all living beings. It is therefore our responsibility to protect it as good and reliable stewards, and as faithful servants of God. "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it" (Psalm 24:1).
The Catholic bishops' conference of Europe penned the Aug. 25 statement alongside the Conference of European Churches — which, much like the WCC, consists of Protestant leaders and Eastern Orthodox clergy.
The joint statement claims the theme for this year, "Jubilee for the Earth," is rooted in the biblical celebration of jubilees.
It says, "The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the Bible, and underlines that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities."
The bishops and Protestant leaders went on to state, "The lesson from the biblical concept of jubilee points us towards the need to restore balance in the very systems of life, affirming the need for equality, justice and sustainability and confirming the need for a prophetic voice in defense of our common home."
They note elsewhere in the statement, "Celebrating the Day of Creation and the Season of Creation has a significant ecumenical dimension."
The statement claims the Wuhan virus pandemic has highlighted "how deeply the globe is interconnected," adding, "Impact of the pandemic forces us to take seriously the need for vigilance and the need for conditions of sustainable life throughout the earth. This is even more important when considering the environmental devastation and the threat of climate change."
The Spanish bishops' conference is joining the environmentalist prayer day, releasing a statement that likewise speaks of "planet-wide interdependence, fraternal co-responsibility and the need for human compassion."
The WCC has an ecumenical, ecological prayer guide for the "Season of Creation." It recommends a number of prayers for "ecumenical prayer services" and similar events.
It includes an ecological penitential rite (labeled as "confession") in which participants say, "We confess our demand that the earth produce beyond its limits, and our bondage to desire more."
The ritual, adapted from a Lutheran source, also has the congregation confess to "our vicious consumption of food and energy" and apologize to God for failing to love "our human and non-human neighbors as ourselves."
In the United States, a number of Catholic organizations have highlighted the "Season of Creation" and Tuesday's day of prayer.
Earlier this year, the Dominican Center in southeast Michigan put out a liturgical guide for the "Season of Creation."
The booklet refers to the 34 days dedicated to environmentalism as a "liturgical season," and recommends alternate formulas for the prayers of the Mass to be used on Sundays during the "season."