In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, “it is time to rethink so many aspects of our life together, from the awareness of what is most valuable and gives life meaning, to the care of life itself, so precious, to the quality of social and economic relationships”.

This is the message of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the 15th National Day of the Care of Creation to be celebrated on September 1 this year – a text that was prepared by the Episcopal Commission for Social Problems and Work, Justice and Peace together with the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, and which is entitled “Living in this world with self-control, justice and piety (Tit 2:12)”.

Putting the person at the centre

With regard to our lifestyles today, the Italian Bishops’ text stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic “has highlighted many situations of cultural emptiness, a lack of points of references and injustices, which must be overcome”, and that in this context of uncertainty and fragility “it is essential to rebuild a healthcare system based on the centrality of the person and not on economic interest”.

In the same way, the Italian Bishops denounce that the health emergency has revealed “a socio-economic system characterised by inequity and discord, in which the most fragile are too easily left alone”, if on the other hand the silver lining to the crisis has been the “strong capacity of response on the part of the population, a willingness to collaborate”.

“We are ruined the harmony of living beings in which we are embedded”

In their message for the Day for the Care of Creation, the Italian Bishops also invite Catholics and wider society to look at “our relationship with the environment”, to take into account the fact that “everything is connected” (Laudato si’, 138).

“Too often we have thought we were masters and have ruined, destroyed [and] polluted that harmony of living beings in which we are embedded. This is the anthropological excess of which Francis speaks in Laudato si’“, the Italian Bishops denounce in their text.

The prelates also warn that the pandemic is the sign of a “sick world” – the consequence, they say, “of an unsustainable relationship with the Earth”, as Pope Francis likewise pointed out in his Urbi et orbi blessing March 27.

For the Italian prelates, “the widespread pollution, the disruption of so many ecosystems and the unprecedented relations between the species” the destruction generates “may have favoured the emergence of the pandemic or aggravated its consequences”, and for that reason they urge the world to redouble its efforts to fight the environmental crisis.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

More on Novena on the environmental dimensions of the pandemic:

Pope laments on World Environment Day: “The wounds inflicted on our mother earth are wounds that also bleed in us”

On anniversary of Laudato si’, Pope prays cry of the Earth and cry of the poor “may become the birth-pangs of a more fraternal and sustainable world”

Caritas secretary general turns to ‘Laudato si” for fight against pandemic: “Ecological conversion has to take place now, before it is too late”

Cardinal Czerny: “Laudato si’ was an extraordinary wake-up call, and COVID-19 is the same alarm that rings with force and urgency”

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.