Pope creates Catholic 'Earth Day'

Pope Francis visits a living Nativity scene in January. He's taking his environmental campaign a step further.

Story highlights

  • World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will be celebrated September 1
  • Date selected to coincide with day of prayer in Christian Orthodox Church

Rome (CNN)Pope Francis announced Monday the institution of a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be celebrated every year, beginning this September 1.

"As Christians," the Pope said in a letter the Vatican published Monday, "we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation."
September 1 has been chosen to coincide with the same day of prayer already celebrated in the Christian Orthodox Church.
    Pope Francis said that the suggestion was made by a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who had participated in the presentation of "Laudato Si," the Pope's encyclical on the environment.
    "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," the Pope wrote.
    Francis asked that the heads of the Vatican offices of Justice and Peace and Christian Unity work with local churches and other Christian denominations to promote various initiatives for the day of prayer.
    "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," the Pope said in his letter.