Message of Pope Francis
Pope Francis begins his message with the jubilee text of Leviticus:
« You shall thus hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim a release throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.»(Lv 25, 10)
Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS, 24 may 2015), the first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October.
The aim is: that Christians all over the world renew their faith in God the Creator and unite in a special way in prayer and work for the defence of the common home.
Theme: “Earth Jubilee”, precisely the year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day.
The document is structured according to the meaning of the Jubilee in Sacred Scripture: remember, return, rest, restore, and rejoice. Here are some highlights.
1. A Time to Remember
« Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth » (LS, n. 92).
2. A Time to Return
As Pope Benedict observed, “the brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property” (Meeting with Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008).
3. A Time to Rest
In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment 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.
4. A Time to Restore
A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships.
Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world. We need to stand up for intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity at this critical moment. I invite all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.
5. A Time to Rejoice
We rejoice to see how young people and communities, particularly indigenous communities, 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” (LS, 13) “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30)
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 1 September 2020.