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Season of Creation opens with prayer and protest

08 September 2017


Hurricane Irma: a Category-5 storm thrashes across the Atlantic on course for Puerto Rico and the Florida coast, on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, several Caribbean Islands had been hit, and authorities reported at lunchtime on Wednesday that contact with the island of Barbuda had been lost since the early hours. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, tweeted on Wednesday that, “the Lord has protected us, and we have been spared the worst of Irma.” On Thursday morning, however, Mr Browne described the situation in Barbuda as "in a state of “national disaster”. He said that 90 per cent of vehicles and structures on the island have been “totally demolished”. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, wrote to bishops of Episcopal dioceses in the Irma’s path: “Please know that we are praying for you here. Prayers were offered for you at the holy eucharist. . . May God bless you and keep you and all the people of the communities you serve”

Hurricane Irma: a Category-5 storm thrashes across the Atlantic on course for Puerto Rico and the Florida coast, on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, sev...

A CEREMONIAL water-walk along the Great Lake, in Toronto; a river clean-up in Swaziland; and a protest by women religious at a landfill of radioactive material are among the activities that will take place this month to mark the Season of Creation.

The Season began last week on 1 September, proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, in 1989, and since embraced by other Churches. It concludes on 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi. The World Council of Churches Central Committee first invited Churches to observe “Time for Creation” in 2008.

Anglicans will play a prominent part in events. Last Friday, the Bishop for Indigenous Peoples in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt Revd Mark MacDonald, joined the environmental campaigner Bill McKibben and others in leading an online prayer service to launch the season. On 19 September, the Archbishop of Canterbury will lead an online prayer service, which will feature songs of the Taizé community.

In Swaziland, a young Anglican lay leader, Mncedisi Masuku, has organised a special eucharist, and river clean-up.

“Here, in Swaziland, we are already suffering from the water shortages and food scarcity that climate change brings,” he said. “This problem is not imaginary for us. It is right here, right now.”

In Canada, a coalition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will walk along the Great Lake waterfront to promote the better protection of waterways. A bi-weekly vigil and protest is being held at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri, where radioactive material is stored. It is being led by Sr Jeanne Derer, who said that the the Franciscan Sisters of Mary were “committed to acting in the name of justice and love for Creation”.

The environmental co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, spoke of a second year of drought. “If rainfall does not improve, the city of Cape Town could run out of municipal water by March,” she said. “Climate change has affected rain patterns, and the worst is yet to come. We have stolen the earth from our children. As Anglicans, healing the earth is a mission priority.”

In a joint statement issued at the start of the season, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of a “morally decaying scenario” revealed in history, “where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators”.

“We fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September,” they said. “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 marginalised, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.”

On 4 October, Roman Catholic institutions around the world are due to issue a joint announcement of divestment from fossil fuels.

A group of women religious, all of whom are elderly, will hold a protest and vigil at an unlined landfill of radioactive material.

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