Pope Francis declares annual Catholic environment day

1 September chosen for day of environmental awareness; Vatican calls for faithful to adopt “appropriate lifestyles”

(Pic: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

(Pic: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

By Ed King

Pope Francis has announced the Catholic Church will celebrate an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”, starting on 1 September 2015.

It’s the Pontiff’s latest foray into global environmental politics, off the back of his widely publicised Papal Encyclical on the environment, released in June.

In a statement on the Vatican website, Pope Francis said all Christians should work towards resolving what he termed the “ecological crisis” facing the world.

The day “will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation,” he wrote.

All 1.2 billion Catholics will be invited to participate in an event offering opportunities for “prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles”.

1 September is already celebrated by Orthodox Christians as their environment day. This year it also coincides with a set of UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

The Pope’s encyclical emphasised the urgency of addressing climate change and soaring levels of greenhouse gas emissions – backing efforts to secure a global emissions cutting deal later this year.

“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth,” it said.

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

The Pope will take his message to New York for the General Assembly meeting next month. He is also scheduled to meet President Barack Obama and address the Congress during his US visit.

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