World

Pope sets day aside to pray for the care of the environment, follows Orthodox Christians' lead

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, file photo, Pope Francis poses for a photo as he arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for an audience with with Altar boys and girls. Francis thrills Democrats with his teachings on climate change, social justice and immigration. At the same time, his message on life and the Catholic Church's traditional opposition to abortion comfort Republicans. Both Democrats and Republicans are looking forward to Francis' remarks to Congress next month. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, file photo, Pope Francis poses for a photo as he arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for an audience with with Altar boys and girls. Francis thrills Democrats with his teachings on climate change, social justice and immigration. At the same time, his message on life and the Catholic Church's traditional opposition to abortion comfort Republicans. Both Democrats and Republicans are looking forward to Francis' remarks to Congress next month. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has taken a cue from Orthodox Christians and designated Sept. 1 as a day for Catholics to pray for the care of the environment.

The Vatican said Monday that Francis, taking up a suggestion from Orthodox leaders, instituted for Catholics a "world day of prayer for the care of Creation" to be marked every Sept. 1.

Writing to Vatican cardinals about his decision, Francis quoted from his encyclical this year about the need for Christians and all people to protect the environment.

Francis told the cardinals the day will offer "individual believers and communities" an opportunity to reaffirm commitments to being "stewards of creation."

The pope said Catholics' marking the prayer day on the same date as the Orthodox highlights the "growing communion" between the churches.