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Members of World Churches Consider “Feast of Creation” At Assisi Gathering

by Catherine Vincie, RSHMCategory: Updates

group photo of lay people and religious men and women gathered in a church, standing in front of title slide: The Feast of Creation and the Mystery of Creation

From March 14 through 17, I gathered in Assisi with 120 in-person and 100 online representatives and theologians from the major Christian denominations and Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches to discern whether to have a joint Feast of the Creator and of Creation each year sometime during the period from September 1 to October 4, the feast of St. Francis. This Ecumenical, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic effort was intended to enable worshiping communities to more explicitly celebrate the Triune God as Creator and the Mystery of Creation as well as to inspire our communities through its prayer to act decisively in addressing the global climate crisis. Representatives included the president of the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, heads of the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed Churches, the prior of Taize, among others. Roman Catholic participation included representatives of the Dicasteries of the Doctrine of the Faith, Promoting Integral Human Development, and Promoting Christian Unity.

Systematic and liturgical theologians made various presentations to clarify issues of trinitarian theology and creation, Christology, and the centrality of the mysteries of Christ in the celebration of the Liturgical Year. At the end of our meeting, we took a “sounding” of the participants on the feasibility of such a project despite the complications of Roman centrality and Protestant subsidiarity. Of the 120 participants gathered there was nearly universal acclamation in favor of the proposal. Only one person argued against the proposal.

It was a privilege to be there in Assisi for this gathering and to participate in a renewed Ecumenical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic effort of cooperation and action for the integrity of creation. The process will continue and there are hopes to resolve issues and develop a celebration by 2025, the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicea and the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Photo collage: top left, back view of several people on hiking trail in Assisi, top middle: Patriarch Bartholomew, top right: people gathered at outdoor Mass in the woods. Bottom left; statue of St Francis, bottom middle: participants in classroom style seating listening to presentation. bottom right: Sr. Catherine Vincie in dark jacket, light shirt  sitting at dais as presenter

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