Pope Francis is proposing adding care for the environment to the traditional, Gospel-inspired works of mercy that Christians are called to perform.
Francis made the proposal in a message on Thursday to mark the Church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which he instituted last year in a bid to highlight his green agenda.
In the message, he said: “The Christian life involves the practice of the traditional seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness… But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.
“Obviously ‘human life itself and everything it embraces’ includes care for our common home. So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy also include care for our common home.
“As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’, which ‘allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us’. As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world’.”
Officials say the proposal is the logical extension of Francis’s landmark and controversial ecological encyclical issued last year.
The world’s first Latin American pope called for a revolution to correct what he said was a “structurally perverse” economic system in which the rich exploited the poor and turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”
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