'Urgent' plea to world leaders unites Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Christians around world
An 'urgent' appeal to pray for the environment is bringing Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Christians together all around the world today.
Marking the first day of the Season of Creation, Pope Francis alongside Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church offered a veiled criticism of Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement as they begged world leaders to tackle the 'tragic and lasting' effects of climate change.
'We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation,' they wrote.
'We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.'
Next week the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury will hold an online prayer service for the environment amid hundreds of different events around the world from New Zealand to Nigeria and Uganda to the USA.
The global display of Christian unity is designed to highlight concern for the environment in a rebuttal to US evangelical Christians who are more likely than any other American group to be sceptical about climate change.
Pope Francis and Patriach Bartholomew wrote: 'The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people.
'The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth's goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures.
'The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.'
Advocates say this year's Season of Creation, which began in 1989 under the Orthodox Patriarch Dimitrious I and was later embraced by others, has 'extra significance' because it is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – the most significant split in Christian history.
A statement from the Global Catholic Climate Movement read: 'The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is an occasion to reflect on the values shared by all Christians, and care for our common home is a prominent shared value.
'Additionally, decisions in the United States to pull out of the Paris climate treaty and to roll back environmental protections, including major climate regulations, contradict the message of environmental stewardship embraced by the united Christian family.'
Dr Louk Anderson, climate consultant for the World Council of Churches which represents 500 million Christians globally, said: 'In world news, we see disgusting acts of pollution, wild fires, and many other forms of ecological destructions caused by human greed.
'Talking about hope for the Earth reminds me of an Old Testament story about a conversation between Abraham and God. Abraham begged the Creator to save an immoral city from destruction, if only 10 good people could be found within it.
'I believe that the community of believers who act in defense of Creation are those seeds of hope. The Season of Creation is a call to all Christians to beg for God's mercy by prayers and acts of repentance so that the common oikos–the Earth--will not be in peril.
'I thank God that the World Council of Churches and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Orthodox churches are supporting the Season of Creation.'