Statement by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

In his encyclical “Laudato Si',” Pope Francis reminded us of our obligation to be stewards of God's creation and to care for our common home. The Holy Father noted, “By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for 'the Lord by wisdom founded the Earth.'” (Proverbs  3:19) More recently, Pope Francis outlined a seven-year plan for the universal Church to increase awareness and encourage engagement in activities that lead to a healthier and cleaner environment for all.

Currently, we are working on various ways to integrate Pope Francis' seven-year plan within the Diocese of Arlington. For example, the Office of Planning, Construction and Facilities regularly conducts energy audits in our parishes and schools. By identifying opportunities to increase energy efficiency, we hope to reduce carbon emissions and costs. Several diocesan parishes have installed solar panels on their rooftops. Recently, the Diocese approved the expansion of solar panel installations to five more locations. When completed, these solar panels, along with those previously installed in four other locations, will produce enough electricity to power 200 homes annually.

Additionally, the Diocese is developing a resource tool kit for youth and young adults in our parishes, schools and campus ministries. These materials will be an educational aid in teaching how ordinary human activity impacts creation. They will also outline ways to improve our care of creation as well as possible projects to recommend to pastors and lay leaders for youth and young adult groups.

I encourage all people of faith and goodwill to take the Saint Francis pledge, which we have on our website. It is simple and can be done by anyone, anywhere. The pledge contains the following components:

  1. Pray and reflect on our duty to care for human and environmental ecology while offering special protection to the poor and vulnerable.
  2. Educate ourselves and others on ways to protect God's creation.
  3. Assess how we as individuals fail to respect the natural world and its resources.
  4. Act on this knowledge by trying to reduce the ways we may be harming our common home.
  5. Advocate for Catholic principles and how they can be implemented to ensure our common home is here for generations to come.

May Our Lord continue to bless our efforts to respect the world he gave us and give us the wisdom and energy to follow his call in our lives.