The great “yes” to Creation

"Ecological" pilgrimage: the final message

The European Churches issued a document for the safeguarding of Creation titled Church in Europe: renew your commitment to safeguarding creation”. It’s the first fruit of the “pilgrimage of hope for Europe” for bishops and delegates with responsibilities for Creation of European Bishops’ Conferences (reportage: click here), held September 1-5. The pilgrimage organized by CCEE left from Esztergom, Hungary, crossed Slovakia, with stop in Bratislava, reaching their destination at the shrine of Mariazell, in Austria, “the point of arrival of pilgrims from all over Europe”, as described by the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. “Without respect for the Creator the Creation dies off”, His Eminence said, recalling that “God comes first”, and “only the adoration of the Creator enables us to comprehend Creation, which He bestowed upon us”.An appeal to European Churches. “We appeal to young people, to families, to parish communities, monasteries, schools, seminaries and universities to renew their commitment to the vocation of caring for our earthly home by encouraging dissemination, study and implementation of these principles which offer luminous and compelling signposts to hope for humanity”, the bishops wrote in their final message, and appeal to “joint prayer and action with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities”, with reference to the ecumenical prayer service held in St. Pölten. “Local Churches” are encouraged “to engage with the ‘Creation Time’ initiative endorsed by the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania in 2007. The bishops also encouraged “wider dialogue” with the political community, “the mutual benefit of which we experienced as part of this pilgrimage”.The rich heritage of the Biblical tradition. “In the hope of inspiring a renewed engagement with the spiritual and moral dimensions of the ecological question”, continues the message, “the delegates draw attention to the rich patrimony of values which flows from the biblical, patristic and theological tradition, rooted in human reason and which is proposed to humanity through the social doctrine of the Catholic Church”. These principles include: “Commitment to the Common Good of all people, acknowledging that the good of each one of us depends on the well-being of all”; “Respect for the Universal Destination of the Goods of the Earth, rejecting all attempts to unjustly dominate, excessively consume, limit or commercialise those God-given goods upon which every person depends for existence”; “Subsidiarity, noting that actions taken at the local level including the home, the parish and the school are essential to the future of the global environment”; “Solidarity, including a willingness to sacrifice personal and short term gains for the sake of others, especially the powerless and the poor”; “Distributive Justice, ensuring that those who least pollute such as the poor and powerless are not those most affected by the consequences of the environmental crisis”; “Intergenerational Justice, acting now on the basis of prudence and precaution for the sake of the very existence of future generations”.The hope to heal the world. “Without God, care for the Creation becomes an ideology or the result of utilitarianism, lacking respect for something which constitutes a value per se”, Father Duarte da Cunha, CCEE Secretary General told SIR, referring to the religious dimension of the pilgrimage. “There weren’t only debates during the pilgrimage”, he added, “We concretely experienced the personal encounter of participants, living together in different natural environments”. This can bring greater vigor “to address those challenges indicated by the Pope for the safeguard of Creation, in local Churches and in the framework of national bishops’ conferences, thus for the whole of Europe”. The final statement, which provides an account of the days, from Esztergom to Mariazell, contains an appeal to politicians. This is precisely because, continues the CCEE Secretary, “along our journey we met politicians at different levels, that confirmed our belief that those with public responsibilities must preserve the living dialogue with society, which includes the Churches. The lack of dialogue leads to a path of destruction”. Christians have a special responsibility towards Creation to the light of reason and of faith. And if on the plane of reason, “that which is true for Christians is true for everyone”, faith brings “a new light that leads them to understand and act accordingly. Faith brings hope, and for this hope it is worthwhile making the world a better place”.

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