The History of Earth Day
On that day in 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate support for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies in response to the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969. More than three million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean, killing over 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals and sea lions.
The first Earth Day celebrations took place in 2,000 colleges and universities, roughly 10,000 secondary schools and thousands of communities across the United States. It is now observed in 192 countries, and in 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China and some 120 other countries on this momentous day.
Observing Earth Day as a Catholic
Pope Francis has called for Catholics to “see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated.”
“The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation with the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of our brothers, also of future generations,” Pope Francis went on to say.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement
The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a global network of 400+ member organisations and a community of thousands of Catholics like you, responding to the Pope’s call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical.
Pope’s Francis’ most important ecology statement of 2016, titled “Show Mercy to our Common Home” started the #Mercy2Earth campaign. In the context of the Year of Mercy that the Catholic Church celebrated in 2016, Pope Francis released an important message and enshrined “care for our Catholic home” as an official act of mercy for Catholics to perform.
In addition, the Global Catholic Movement has designated April as Care4Creation Month, and has produced resources and prayers that communities can use in observing it.