Pope Francis is soldiering on in his quest to protect the planet, this Thursday calling for even more decisive action against environmental degradation and climate change.
From Rome, the pontiff decreed that protecting nature is a key tenet of the Christian faith and added it to the seven “works of mercy” Christians should perform, Reuters reported.
In the Catholic faith, works of mercy comprise seven acts that Catholics are obligated to do, which include providing shelter to the homeless, visiting prisoners, and burying the dead, among others.
Now, given the ways we have treated the planet, Francis argues that care for the environment be added to the list.
“God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation and filth,” Francis said in a statement.
“When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings,” he added. “This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events…the world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”
Francis issued these remarks a year after publishing the first papal document devoted to the environment. As with the commentary appearing within those pages, on Thursday Francis did not hesitate to point to greed when explaining the key sources of the world’s present dilapidation.
“Economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short term and immediate financial or electoral gains,” Francis said.
Francis’ words come at an unfortunately opportune time. This week, NASA released a report saying that the planet is warming at a dramatic pace — one not experienced within the past millennium.
“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”
While global leaders agreed last December to curb greenhouse gas emissions and thus stabilize rising temperatures, Francis pushed for even more action — and called on Christians to do it.
“It is up to citizens to insist that this happen, and indeed to advocate for even more ambitious goals,” he said.
Indeed, Francis called on Roman Catholics to embrace a green agenda, one which he says can be achieved by simple actions that combat “the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.”
According to Francis, these actions can be as small as recycling, turning off lights and using public transportation. “We must not think that these efforts are too small to improve our world,” Francis said.