In 2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the position of Pope in the Catholic Church. He chose the papal name of Francis in honour of St Francis of Assisi, known universally to be the patron saint of our fellow creatures and the environment.
This year Pope Francis issued an Encyclical “Laudato Si, On the Care of Our Common Home”, which is attracting a great deal of interest around the world. It is calling for an integrated approach to combating poverty and protecting the natural world. It is 190 pages and about 40,000 words but is written in a very accessible style.
The following quotes illustrate its strong sense of wholeness which embraces a powerful entreaty to protect the environment.
- · “Protect biodiversity, especially wild forests, wetlands, coastal areas, mangrove swamps.”
- · “Promote smart growth. Create liveable communities with beautiful design and plentiful green spaces for everyone, especially the poor. Design spaces that help people connect and trust each other.”
- · “Climate change is a moral issue.”
- · “Technology based on the use of polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil, and to a lesser extent gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
- · " Get down from the ivory tower and stop the rhetoric. Get to know the poor and suffering; it will wake up a numbed conscience and inspire real action.”
- · “Leave room for wandering and migrating species by creating ‘biological corridors’, don’t let dams, highways and construction lead to their extinction.”
- · “Keep oceans and waterways clean and safe from pollutants.”
- · “Put an end to ‘mental pollution’. Think deeply, live wisely, love generously.”
- · “Be aware that synthetic pesticides and herbicides will hurt birds and insects that are helpful for agriculture.”
- · “Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us but she now cries out because her goods have been plundered.”
- · “If we approach nature and the environment without openness to wonder and awe, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters unable to set limits on our immediate needs.”
This thought-provoking document is being referred to as the eco-encyclical or Francis’ environmental manifesto.
Let us hope that its message echos around the planet especially at the Paris conference being held soon.
- Stan Mussared