The Pope’s call to make the 1st of September ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ comes at an opportune time. As we draw closer to COP21 in Paris there is a new urgency in drawing awareness to the environmental degradation that is happening through climate change. It is high time that we open our eyes and acknowledge what is happening around us.
In the letter Pope Francis wrote to Cardinal Koch and Cardinal Turkson, he writes that the first of September is the day on which we are “to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” No matter our religion or affiliation, these words should be taken to heart. We need to be thankful for the beauty and bountifulness of nature, but at the same time also recognise that we have been reckless with it.
COP21 provides us with a chance to remedy at least a few of the ills that we have perpetrated, but for this to happen we need to all rally together and demand that our leaders deliver on their promises. We are, as Pope Francis wrote, “faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective.”
Only if we all take action and hold ourselves and our leaders accountable, can we begin to address and reverse the damage that is being done and will be done because of climate change.
Faith communities are beginning to recognise this, as is shown by the Pope’s encyclical and the positive response to it from ma
ny quarters. The World Council of Churches has endorsed the encyclical and the Pope’s call for a ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ and there is a surge of marches and pilgrimages for climate justice being undertaken.
In Southern Africa, the We Have Faith Campaign – Act Now for Climate Justice is launching a Pan-African cycling caravan. The caravan will travel through nine countries in Southern Africa, creating awareness on climate change and collecting petitions with demands of climate justice aimed at our leaders.
These initiatives are exciting but this movement needs to grow. We urge everyone to take action, whether through a campaign, engaging in COP21 or by adopting more environmentally friendly practices. Climate change is a threat that we all face and we all should be working together to mitigate it.
To find out more about the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation please see the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CYNESA or their website at cynesafrica.webs.com and the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page at www.facebook.com/archdiocesecapetown