“How can we contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace in this Season of Creation? What can we, particularly as Christian communities, do to heal our common home so that it can once again teem with life? We must do this by resolving to transform our hearts, our lifestyles, and the public policies ruling our societies.”
Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,
Pope Francis, September 1, 2023
Season of Creation invitation to “join the river of justice and peace”
The ecumenical Season of Creation runs from September 1st, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and invites Christians around the world to prayer and action to protect our common home.
The 2023 theme “Let Justice and Peace Flow” and symbol “A Mighty River” are inspired by the words of the Prophet Amos “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5: 24), and call participants “to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity.”
The urgency for this river is growing as the climate and ecological emergency worsens. The world just experienced its “hottest ever month on record in July” and Canada is going through a record-breaking wildfire season. More ambitious action on climate change is crucial with a rapidly closing window for obtaining a “liveable sustainable future for all”. Nature is declining globally at unprecedented rates due to human activity.
Reducing one’s ecological footprint and other individual actions are important but are no longer enough. The industrialization, colonisation and resource extraction that helped Global North nations to increase in power and wealth have also led to their greater historical contribution to the climate and ecological crisis. Yet the greatest impacts affect the most vulnerable who have contributed the least including the least wealthy Global South nations, future generations and Indigenous Peoples.
The rest of the world still has much to learn from Indigenous communities who have traditionally lived in right relationship with creation and protect nearly 80 percent of the remaining biodiversity.
The Season of Creation Celebration Guide encourages advocacy such as calling on Global North governments to keep their funding promises for vulnerable communities suffering loss and damage from climate change as well as for protecting biodiversity. It also promotes calling on governments “to reach binding global agreements that eliminate the use of fossil fuels and achieve a fair and equitable energy transition”.
Pope Francis urges bold steps to let “Let Justice and Peace Flow”
Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation was presented early at a May 25th press conference during Laudato Si’ Week. Reflecting on the Season of Creation theme, the Pope began by emphasizing that “God wants everyone to strive to be just in every situation” and urged heeding “our call to stand with the victims of environmental and climate injustice, and to put an end to the senseless war against creation”.
Some effects of that war were named by Pope Francis including rivers drying up, destruction of forests as well as water pollution from predatory industry practices. He also urged action in response to the latest UN climate change report: “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that acting now with greater urgency means that we will not miss our chance to create a more sustainable and just world. We can and we must prevent the worst from happening”.
Watch this short video with highlights from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report Climate Change 2023
The Pope then outlined three ways that Christian communities can “contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace”—by transforming hearts, lifestyles and the public policies governing our societies and shaping the future. Transforming our hearts comes first as this makes other transformations possible. Transforming our lifestyles and habits means moving towards less waste and consumption as well as making environmentally and socially responsible choices.
On transforming public policies, Pope Francis shared some strong words with a major focus on the upcoming UN climate change conference (COP28):
The world leaders who will gather for the COP28 summit in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December next must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel. According to the commitments undertaken in the Paris Agreement to restrain global warming, it is absurd to permit the continued exploration and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures. Let us raise our voices to halt this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will bear the worst effects of climate change.
The Pope’s closing remarks encouraged that “In this Season of Creation… let us live, work and pray that our common home will teem with life once again”. In August the Pope announced plans to publish on the October 4th feast of St. Francis of Assisi--an Exhortation as part two for his encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home.
Season of Creation Resources
These free resources for prayer, liturgy, reflection and action may be used by faith communities, groups, families, individuals and others to participate in the Season of Creation. Many can also be adapted for use at other times of the year.
The Season of Creation website has free ecumenical and denominational resources for prayer, reflection and action including an ecumenical Celebration Guide and prayer service as well as a prayer card. Catholic resources from Laudato Si’ Movement include a campaign to Pray and act for climate justice directed towards political leaders and negotiators for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28).
The 2023 Season of Creation Catholic Liturgical Guide Let Justice & Peace Flow includes scripture reflections, prayers of the faithful, final blessings and other resources for celebrating Season of Creation Sunday liturgies.
Catholic Climate Covenant and the Integral Faith working group of the Association of US Catholic Priests offer Homily Helps for the Season of Creation and all Sundays. These scripture highlights, commentaries, prayers of the faithful, and other resources help integrate Laudato Si' and care for creation into Sunday Mass throughout the year.
For a Canadian perspective, explore the ecumenical Green Churches Network Season of Creation Toolkit focused on three themes—biodiversity, wetlands and energy. It includes a prayer guide, an education and action guide, as well as a family and community guide with activities.
Initiatives inviting participation to “join the river of justice and peace”
MLSM Canada National Gathering on September 27th
This Season of Creation, Mouvement Laudato Si' Movement - Canada (MLSM Canada) is responding to Pope Francis’ call to “come together”! All MLSM Canada members and supporters as well as Laudato Si’ Animators and other global Laudato Si’ Movement (LSM) members across Canada are invited to the first MLSM Canada National Gathering on Wednesday, September 27th at 7:00 pm AT; 6:00 pm ET; 3:00 pm PT.
This free, two-hour, online MLSM Canada National Gathering aims to provide space:
- to share on action and advocacy opportunities and invite collaboration;
- for participants to connect by region or with participants who speak French, to invite community and build collaboration;
- to facilitate sharing of resources, successes, challenges, and strategies.
Anna Johnson, Laudato Si’ Movement's Senior Programs Manager for North America, and Agnes Richard, MLSM Canada Coordinator, will provide updates and highlight opportunities for action.
Free Presentation to help form a Creation Care Ministry in your Parish
Would your parish like to form a Creation Care Ministry? Learn helpful steps for getting started through a free presentation on forming a Creation Care Ministry that engages your parish in deepening ecological spirituality, awareness, practices and solidarity. Stories and practical tips are shared from other Toronto parishes. Free in-person presentations are offered in Toronto; other locations please contact for details. For more information, please contact the Cultivating Care for Our Common Home Program coordinator Karen Van Loon at [email protected].
KAIROS Climate Action Week—Decolonizing Climate Action
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is organizing three Climate Action Weeks, with the theme of Decolonizing Climate Action—June 5-11, September 11-17 and November 13-19. The September Climate Action Week calls for a rapid phase out of fossil fuels and includes an online event on September 12th at 7:00 pm on Building Momentum for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Blogs and actions will be posted throughout the week and are already available for June. The three weeks explore “decolonization as it relates to climate justice, examine the ongoing effects of colonialism on international and Canadian climate policy, and discuss how we can act to change and reverse these effects”.
September 15 – 17: Global Call for a rapid, just, and equitable end to fossil fuels
In September, millions of people around the world will respond to the escalating climate crisis by calling on governments to commit to a rapid and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels in line with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. This global movement for climate justice is seeking a rapid and just transition to an efficient clean energy system that respects nature and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Marches, student strikes, workshops, vigils and other actions will take place around the world, including the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City on September 17th as world leaders prepare to attend the UN Climate Ambition Summit on September 20th. GreenFaith is organizing the Faith Hub for the New York City march.
Several events are taking place across Canada including the September 15th Global Climate Strike on Parliament Hill by Fridays for Future Ottawa as well as the Global March to End Fossil Fuels - Toronto at Queen’s Park on Saturday, September 16th (11am - Rally; 12pm – March; Family and Kids area) organized by a coalition of climate and social justice organizations in Toronto.
For the Love of Creation, a faith-based initiative for climate justice, is encouraging Multifaith Prayer Gatherings to precede events, and their Youth Climate Strike Advisory Team calls on all people of faith across Canada to “fold up” their written commitments and calls about climate justice and send them to decision makers. Learn more about Creating for Creation and how to fold up your commitments on paper into the shape of one of many animal species endangered by climate change and related harms.
“Bless us to walk together with all people of good will so that the many streams of the living waters of God’s justice and peace may become a mighty river all over the Earth.”