“Dear brothers and sisters!
“Let justice and peace spring forth” is this year’s theme of the Ecumenical Season of Creation, inspired by the words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice flow like a spring; justice like a torrent that never dries up” (5, 24).
This expressive image of Amos tells us what God desires. God wants justice to reign, essential to our lives as children in the image of God, as water is to our physical survival. This justice must emerge where it is needed, and not hide deep down or disappear like water that evaporates, before it can sustain us. God wants that everyone seeks to be fair in all situations, may he always strive to live according to its laws and thus allow life to flourish fully. When we seek first the kingdom of God (cf. MT 6, 33), maintaining a right relationship with God, humanity and nature, then justice and peace can flow, like an inexhaustible stream of pure water, nourishing humanity and all creatures.
On a beautiful summer day in July 2022, I pondered these questions during my pilgrimage to the shores of Lake Sainte-Anne, in the province of Alberta, Canada. This lake has been and still is a place of pilgrimage for many generations of indigenous people. As I said on that occasion, accompanied by the sound of drums: “How many hearts have arrived here, anxious and out of breath, weighed down by the burdens of life, and have found near these waters the consolation and the strength to move forward! Here too, immersed in creation, another beat is heard, the maternal beat of the earth. And as the beating of babies, from the maternal womb, is in harmony with that of mothers, so to grow as human beings we need to adjust the rhythms of life with those of the life-giving creation “. Rapacious consumerism, fueled by selfish hearts, is disrupting the planet’s water cycle. Unbridled use of fossil fuels and felling of forests are leading to rising temperatures and severe droughts. Water shortages Fears are increasingly affecting our homes, from small rural communities to large metropolises. Additionally, predatory industries are depleting and polluting our drinking water sources through extreme practices such as hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction , uncontrolled mega-extraction projects and intensive animal breeding. “Sister water”, as Saint Francis calls it, is plundered and transformed into “commodity subject to the laws of the market” (Enc. Laudato si’, not. 30).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says urgent climate action would ensure we don’t miss the opportunity to create a more sustainable and just world. We can, we must, prevent the worst consequences from happening. “There are so many things we can do!” (ibid., not. 180), if, like so many streams and torrents, we end up uniting in a powerful river to irrigate the life of our wonderful planet and our human family for generations to come. Let us join hands and take courageous steps so that justice and peace flow throughout the Earth.
How can we contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace in this Time of Creation? What can we do, especially as Christian churches, to restore our common home so that it teems with life again? We must decide to transform our heartsour lifestyles and the public policies that govern our societies.
First of all, let us contribute to this mighty river by transforming our hearts. This is essential for any further transformation to begin. This is the “ecological conversion” that St. John Paul II urged us to undertake: the renewal of our relationship with creation, so that we no longer regard it as an object to be exploited, but cherish it as a sacred gift of the Creator. Let us therefore realize that an overall approach requires that we practice ecological respect in four directions: towards God, towards our fellow human beings today and tomorrow, towards all of nature and towards ourselves. .
Regarding the first of these dimensions, Benedict XVI identified an urgent need to understand that Creation and Redemption are inseparable: “The Redeemer is the Creator and if we do not announce God in this total greatness which is his – of Creator and Redeemer – we also devalue Redemption” we remember the Great Artist who creates so much beauty and we reflect on the mystery of the loving choice to create the cosmos.
Secondly, we contribute to the flow of this powerful river by transforming our lifestyles. Starting from grateful admiration of the Creator and of creation, let us repent of our “ecological sins”, as my brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, says. These sins hurt the natural world, and also our brothers and sisters. With the help of God’s grace, let us adopt lifestyles with less waste and less unnecessary consumption, especially where production processes are unsustainable and toxic. Let us seek to be as attentive as possible to our habits and our economic choices, so that everyone is better off: our fellow human beings, wherever they are, and also our children’s children. Let us collaborate in God’s continued creation through positive choices: by using resources as moderately as possible, practicing joyful sobriety, eliminating and recycling waste, and using products and services, increasingly available, that are ecologically and socially responsible.
Finally, for the mighty river to continue flowing, we must transform the public policies which govern our societies and which shape the lives of the young people of today and tomorrow. Economic policies that favor the scandalous enrichment of a few and the deterioration of the living conditions of the majority mean the end of peace and justice. It is obvious that the richest Nations have accumulated an “ecological debt” ( Laudato si’, not. 51).