Caritas: Amid the virus, cultivate a “pandemic of love and solidarity”
By Robin Gomes
As Christians around the world observe the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1, Caritas Internationalis is joining Pope Francis in calling on all “to take bold steps in order to safeguard our common home, pray and act for building a community of solidarity and love.”
“As followers of Christ, we share a common role as stewards of God’s creation, our well-being is linked to the well-being of our mother earth,” said the humanitarian and development organisation of the Catholic Church in a statement on Monday.
Building relationship with the earth
“It is also a moment of renewing our hearts and minds, and in rebuilding our relationship with Mother Earth, we are restoring our relationship with God,” said the global confederation of 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies.
Drawing attention to the ravages borne by the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Caritas said, “we became aware of our shared human nature and how interconnected the political, economic, social, spiritual and cultural dimensions are.”
Covid-19 time to build solidarity
“We realised how unjust systems created the environment for the spread of diseases, how fragile our lives are, and how vulnerable we were before the virus.” The pandemic also became an “opportunity for us to joins hands to defend lives and ensure that we do not fall victims of the virus”, Caritas said, stressing, “It is also an opportunity for a new form of solidarity to emerge.”
As the globalised world got viral, Caritas said it continued to spread what its president, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle called the “pandemic of love and solidarity” around the globe.
Caritas said local communities that are victims of the failure to safeguard our common home are asking for “targeted and immediate action, especially concerning food security, access to water and ecosystem preservation.”
The worldwide charity federation thus called on all to protect and nurture life and ensure the sustainability of ecological, economic, social and political systems. In the post-Covid-19 phase, it said, “the new, just and sustainable ways of living” must be promoted, by making people aware of the interconnected relationship between the respect for the earth and ecological, economic, social and political ways of living.
Season of Creation
With the Day of Creation on 1 September, Christians all over the world will begin the month-long Season of Creation.
Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I was the first to proclaim September 1 as a day of prayer for creation for Orthodox Christians in 1989. In fact, the Orthodox liturgical year begins on that day with a commemoration of how God created the world.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) was instrumental in extending the period from September 1 to October 4 as the Season of Creation. Christians worldwide have embraced this Season as part of their annual calendar.
Pope Francis, who in 2015 released his landmark encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on care of our common home", that year led the Catholic Church in joining the ecumenical season.
The Season of Creation ends on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, who is greatly loved by many Christian denominations. The WCC has chosen "Jubilee for the Earth" as the theme of this year's Season of Creation. Dr. Louk Andrianos, WCC Consultant on the Care for Creation, Sustainability and Climate Justice explained the choice of the theme saying it is "to advocate for life sanctification and give rest to all Creation”.