MESSAGE ON THE SEASON OF CREATION 2023 “Let Justice and Peace Flow Like a Mighty River”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Eleven years ago, the Archdiocese of Manila launched the Season of Creation. The
purpose of this celebration is to appropriate a season to praise and thank God for the gift
of creation, to instill in every citizen respect and deep recognition of God the Creator, and
to develop citizens to become responsible stewards and protectors of our common. It was
started during the beginning of the preparation for the 500 years of Christianity in the
Philippines.

Thirty-five years ago, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a
pastoral letter, What is happening to our beautiful land?, to inform every Filipino of the
ecological and environmental situation of our country. “At this point in the history of our
country, it is crucial that people motivated by religious faith develop a deep appreciation
for the fragility of our island’s life systems and take steps to defend the Earth “It is a
matter of life and death”. In July 2019 the CBCP Pastoral Letter, An Urgent Call for
Ecological Conversion, Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency, proposed thirteen detailed
concrete action points.

It might be good to note that on September 1, 2003, Cardinal Quevedo and the permanent
council of the CBCP issued a statement urging all Filipino Catholics to celebrate Creation
Time every September 1 until October 4, a period the Catholic faithful acknowledge, that
priceless gift of creation from the Almighty and Loving Creator who has made us into his
own image and likeness.

This year’s season of creation Pope Francis is urging us to become instruments in letting
justice and peace flow like a mighty river. Let Justice and Peace Flow” is the theme of this
year’s ecumenical Season of Creation, inspired by the words of the prophet Amos: “Let
justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (5:24). The evocative
image used by Amos speaks to us of what God desires. God wants justice to reign; it is
as essential to our life as God’s children made in His likeness as water is essential for our
physical survival. This justice must flow forth wherever it is needed, neither remaining
hidden deep beneath the ground nor vanishing like water that evaporates before it can
bring sustenance. God wants everyone to strive to be just in every situation, to live
according to his laws, and thus to enable life to flourish. When we “seek first the kingdom
of God” (Mt 6:33), maintaining a right relationship with God, humanity, and nature, then
justice and peace can flow like a never-failing stream of pure water, nourishing humanity
and all creatures.

Likewise, the late Pope Benedict XV1 in his 2010 World Day of Peace message, said “If
you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” The 2023 Season of Creation theme “Let
Justice and Peace Flow” echoes and reaffirms the need to respond or hear the seven
Laudato Si goals towards integral ecology. Pope Francis invited all sectors through the
Laudato Si Action Platforms. The Laudato Si Action Platform is a space for institutions,
communities, and families to learn and grow together as we journey toward full
sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology. Everyone is warmly invited to join
this community because each unique “culture, experience, involvements, and talents” are
needed on our journey towards greater love for our Creator, each other, and the home
we share. (LS 14).

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released in February 2022 a Pastoral
Statement that radically call for unity among Philippine churches to urgently respond to
the present state of climate emergency and planetary crisis through the seven Laudato Si
goals. “We are committed to advance the teachings of the Laudato Si and be bearers of
hope in the face of an ecological crisis, following our Lord Jesus, our Redeemer. As such,
we commit to integrate the care of creation as our common home in our teaching and
practice of Christian discipleship” through concrete ecological actions in caring for our
Common Home (February 2, 2022, CBCP Pastoral Statement: A Call for Unity and Action
amid a Climate Emergency and Planetary Crisis).

During this 11th Season of Creation in the Archdiocese of Manila, I enjoin everyone to be
a beacon of hope in the promotion of environmental care, efficient disaster response, and
just social transformation (e.g. human rights, etc.). Let us make this strategic object of our
Traslacion Roadmap a reality by planning and designing programs on formation that lead
to ecological conversion. More sustainable care for our common home projects and
programs that will ensure a safe and sustainable future for the next generations. Pope
Francis in Laudato Si is asking us, “what kind of world do we want to leave to the coming
generations?” Let us organize a community, institutional, parish, and even family
showing and reflection on the Laudato Si movie, The Letter. Let us develop and deepen
our love and respect for God the Creator through His creation.

Take time to deepen our understanding of our profession of faith “I believe in God the
Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” Translate this into concrete lifestyle,
mission, and growth in ecological spirituality. Take an active role in the promotion and
witnessing to the encyclical Laudato Si following the commitment of the CBCP: “We are
committed to advance the teachings of the Laudato Si and be bearers of hope in the face
of an ecological crisis, following our Lord Jesus, our redeemer. As such, we commit to
“integrate the care of creation as our common home in our teaching and practice of
Christian discipleship” through concrete ecological actions in caring for our Common
Home.

This is to inform everyone that the Archdiocese of Manila has divested all our
investments from coal and other destructive businesses since years ago in response to the
calls of Laudato Si and in consonance with our faith and the earlier social teachings of the
Church. We commit to relentlessly support all initiatives that will protect, preserve,
nurture, and respect God’s creation. Through the Archdiocesan Ministry on Ecology, we
commit to respond to the goals of Laudato Si specifically to hear the cry of the poor and
the cry of the earth. Reduce the impacts of climate change, promote food safety and
security to address hunger, and ensure the protection of the rights to safe and healthy
ecology by mobilizing various institutions to become part of the Laudato Si Action
Platform to achieve Integral Ecology.

As your Archbishop, I therefore enjoin every parish and institution to organize ecology
ministry, participate in and lead Season of Creation events in the parishes and
communities which started on September 1, launch concrete and creative actions on the
Care for Our Common Home and make every Sunday of the Season of Creation a parish
Laudato Si Sunday. Thus, “Let justice and peace flow like a river, righteousness like a
never-failing stream” (5:24).

 

+ JOSE F. CARDINAL ADVINCULA
Archbishop of Manila

 

 

 

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