Pope Francis has instituted the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will be commemorated annually on September 1, as has become customary in the Orthodox churches.

In a letter dated August 6 and released four days later, the Pontiff said that the idea was suggested by Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, who represented the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the recent release of the encyclical on the care of creation.

“As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing,” Pope Francis said in his letter, which was addressed to the presidents of two pontifical councils. “In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation.”

“The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live,” the Pope continued.

He added:

The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective.