A PILGRIMAGE from the Italian town of Assisi to the COP24 United Nations climate-change conference in Poland is one of hundreds of ecumenical events marking the Season of Creation, this month.
The annual celebration of prayer and action for the environment was started by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. It runs from the World Day of Prayer for Creation on 1 September to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on 4 October.
The World Council of Churches (WCC), Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Global Catholic Climate movement, and other agencies have produced a range of resources to help Christians mark the season. Participants can plan and register events on the official website.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was among the nine Christian leaders to write an open letter in support of the season, in June. The letter says: “As the environmental crisis deepens, we Christians are urgently called to witness to our faith by taking bold action to preserve the gift we share. . .
“United in our sincere wish to protect creation and all those who share it, we join hands across denominations as sisters and brothers in Christ. During this season, we walk together towards greater stewardship of our place in creation.”
CANTERBURY CATHEDRALPaula the Polar Bear, a realistic life-sized puppet, visited Canterbury Cathedral last month, while spending the summer at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Paula was given a tour of the cathedral and its precincts by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Ven. Jo Kelly-Moore
The theme this year — “Walking Together” — inspired two days of prayer in Assisi last Friday and Saturday, which is to be followed by a pilgrimage to Katowice in Poland, in October, where the annual UN conference on climate change is to be held.
The Moderator of the WCC Working Group on Climate Justice, the Revd Henrik Grape, who took part, said on Monday: “Assisi is to some extent the heart of a Creation Care attitude since this is the region of St Frances. His way of understanding the Creation [was] as an inclusive life where all life forms, reflects the grace of God and our world as a suitable place to meet and manifest.”
On the significance of creationtide, he said: “Ecological challenges have risen over the last decades in a way that must be addressed by more than technical and political solutions.
“There is a need for a more value-based change to overcome the ecological threats like climate change, biodiversity, access to water, and many others.
“In our Christian traditions, there are theological wells that can contribute to this change. There is an urgent need for change. Change of lifestyles and change of economic systems or models, change on how we understand development and how we build a peaceful and sustainable life. Metanoia is a word from our Christian tradition that needs to be reflected on in this context.”
The director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, and the environmental officer for the diocese in Europe, the Revd Elizabeth Bussmann, also took part in the “symbolic start” to the pilgrimage. The main pilgrimage to Poland will start in October.
Ms Bussmann said that the purpose was “to raise awareness and show our solidarity and support of the issues agreed in Paris”, and chivy world leaders to implement the agreement. It was also an opportunity to follow in the steps of St Francis, and “surrender completely” to God’s agenda for our lives and lifestyles. The Season of Creation should give us an opportunity to do not only this but also to repent and turn back to God.”