Pope Francis has proposed adding the care of creation to the traditional list of corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

As a spiritual work of mercy, the Pope said, care for creation requires “a grateful contemplation of God’s world”, while as a corporal work it calls for “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.

The Pope reflected on the need for an integral ecology in Christian life in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1. The message, entitled “Show Mercy to our Common Home”, presented the day of prayer as an occasion for Christians to “reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation” and to thank God “for the wonderful handiwork which He has entrusted to our care”.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said at a press conference that Francis’s message called on Christians to be “honest with ourselves” and acknowledge that “when we hurt the earth, we also hurt the poor” and thus commit “a sin against creation, against the poor and against those who have not yet been born”.

“This means that we must examine our consciences and repent. I realise that this is not the way we traditionally think about sin. These are sins, Pope Francis says, that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed,” the cardinal added.

In his message the Pope said that concern for the planet’s future unites religious leaders and organisations and draws attention to “the moral and spiritual crisis” at the heart of environmental problems.

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