In February prayer video, Pope Francis pleads for creation care, 'a new way of living'

This story appears in the Francis: The Environment Encyclical feature series. View the full series.

by Brian Roewe

NCR environment correspondent

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Pope Francis reinforced core messages of his major encyclical on the environment in his video prayer intention for February, asking people across the globe to do their part in "caring for our common home," and to discover "a new way of living."

The video, the new medium for the monthly prayer intentions, opens with dawn breaking through a forest. Images of majestic mountains follow, along with a school of fish and budding plants.  

"Believers and unbelievers agree that the earth is our common heritage, the fruits of which should benefit everyone," he said.

"However, what is happening in the world we live in?" Francis asked.

A beach scene with children playing in the sand and water quickly transitions to the tide receding and revealing plastic cups, bottles and other trash in its wake.

The scene brings to life a much-cited line from Francis’ social encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home" regarding the state of the planet: "The earth, our home, is begin­ning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elder­ly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish."

"The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living," the pope said in the video, to the backdrop of a bicyclist riding through a smog-filled city in traffic wearing a gas mask.  

"This month I make a special request: that we take good care of creation -- a gift freely given -- cultivating and protecting it for future generations," Francis said. "Caring for our common home."

The video closes with scenes of people outdoors enjoying nature, another cyclist recycling a cup, and even the sharing of a four-leaf clover for good measure.

In a press release from the Global Catholic Climate Movement Jesuit Fr. Frédéric Fornos, international director of the Apostleship of Prayer, said the February prayer intention "comes at a crucial time for humanity, addressing an area where we urgently need to make changes."

"We need a conversation that brings us together, because we are all affected by environmental challenges, especially the poor and displaced," Fornos said.

The video is the second released since the Vatican announced it as the new prayer intention format, which it produces with the Apostleship of Prayer international organization. The first video asked for peaceful, loving dialogue among people of different faiths. Also on Friday, news broke that Francis will meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba -- the first ever meeting between leaders of the two Christian churches -- as part of his upcoming trip to Mexico.

In April 2015, Francis made his universal prayer intention for the month, "That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift from God." Two months later, he released Laudato Si', the first papal encyclical to focus primarily on issues of ecology and the environment.  

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

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