The Bishops of Japan have established the period from September 1 to October 4 (the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi) as “the special month to PROTECT ALL LIFE.” Below is a messagefrom the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.
“Let’s renew the human community, God’s home in the world”
In response to the wish of Pope Francis, the Month for Protecting All Life was to be held in 2020 but was canceled to prevent Covid infections. This year, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the theme: “A home for all? Renewing God’s home.” I want to share with you some reflections on this theme as we journey with the Church.
Scripture tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1) and they were created by God as good (Gen. 1:31). Everything created is the Lord’s. This contains two teachings: all created things belong to the earth community, and the whole community belongs to God. Our common home (oikos in Greek) belongs to God and is the common home of all God’s creatures.
All relationships on earth interact to support the happiness of the earth. Plants and animals, biological and even inanimate entities all play an important role in maintaining the balance of this beloved community. The science of ecology (oiko-logia: study of the home) explains their relationships. Each contributes to the health and resilience of the diverse ecosystem in which it exists. We humans are made from the same matter as the earth and are caretakers of our fellow creatures and the earth.
Relationships among people are also related to the natural environment. Economic (oiko-nomia: home management), social and political relationships affect the balance of creation. Everything that humans manufacture, use and produce is based on minerals, plants and animals and thus comes from the earth. Our energy- and resource-consuming lifestyles affect the solar system’s and the earth’s ability to support natural resilience and life. Human relationships in the fields of economy and politics have a direct impact on the human family, the many people in God’s home.
The Creator gives humanity, God’s created companions, a special calling to care for and protect God’s home. Faith, reason, and wisdom are required to maintain the right relationship with the natural environment, society, economy and politics.
Faith allows us to understand that we are caretakers in a dynamic and living community of created things. The earth and all creation were not given to us to use as we wish. Rather, God entrusted them to us not to rule, but to protect them.
Reason identifies the best ways to protect the conditions for life and create new economic, technical and political structures for our common home.
Wisdom makes us attentive to the systems and activities of nature, the traditions inherent in the land and the revelation of God by the Word and Spirit.
For centuries, humankind has ordered our lives and economies according to the logic of the market rather than the limits of the earth. This false logic exploits God’s home and uses creation as a means for economic or political purposes. The exploitation of flora, fauna and minerals for profit is resulting in the loss of environment for millions of species of plants and animals.
Humanity’s environment is also at risk due to climate change. Reason shows us that in this human-centric age, the division between the natural and social environments has created the current climate crisis, further destabilizing the natural environment. Wisdom should help us discover how to create an economy of life and a just political system that supports life for the earth and its people.
By faith, we trust that the Spirit of God is constantly renewing the face of the earth. Inspired by that hope, we who are baptized must reaffirm our human calling to cultivate and protect the Garden of God. God invites us to be united with Christ, to renew the entire earth where we live, to participate in protecting a place for all created things, and to re-create a just relationship among all created things.
I want to propose three concrete actions for the Month for Protecting All Life that begins on the first Sunday in September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation:
- 1. Read the pope’s encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti carefully and share with others what you learn.
- 2. Learn about the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year project “to make communities around the world totally sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of Ladato Si’.” (LaudatoSi.org – Action Platform)
- 3. Aim each day for a simpler lifestyle. Look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Home | Sustainable Development (un.org)) and ask yourself:
• Am I wasting resources like water, electricity, food, etc.?
• How much do I use environmental pollutants such as detergents and plastic products?
• Do I join environmental restoration activities such as clearing litter in public places like beaches, natural areas and cities?
✠ Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2021