The day of prayer will give the faithful an opportunity to implore God's help in protecting creation, says Pope Francis
In 1989 showing his care for the earth, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, established each year’s September 1 as a Protection of the Environment Day for the Orthodox Church. On August 6, 2015, at the suggestion of Metropolitan John of Pergamon, who represented the Patriarch at the June 18 public presentation of Pope Francis' encyclical, "Laudato Si”, Pope Francis added this annual day of prayer to the Catholic calendar, stating that he hoped "This would mark a step toward further closeness among them [the Orthodox Church]."
"The annual World Day of prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvelous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live. The celebration of the Day on the same date as the Orthodox Church will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers. We live in a time where all Christians are faced with identical and important challenges and we must give common replies to these in order to appear more credible and effective. Therefore it is my hope that this Day can involve, in some way, other Churches and ecclesial Communities and be celebrated in union with the initiatives that the World Council of Churches is promoting on this issue."
Pope Francis asked Cardinal Turkson, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “to inform the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences, as well as the national and international Organizations involved in environmental issues” so that “this celebration can be rightly marked with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful.” Cardinal Koch, as President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, was asked to contact and work with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical organizations so that this World Day can become the sign of a path along which all believers in Christ walk together.
"We are treating our planet in an inhuman, godless manner precisely because we fail to see it as a gift inherited from above. Our original sin with regard to the natural environment lies in our refusal to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and neighbor on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that divine and human meet in the slightest detail contained in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust."
"Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today" by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 2008