Pope Francis’ trip to the United States this month generated enormous interest and attendance at the events, with nearly a million people (including me) at a mass in Philadelphia. There were many millions more who watched the Pope’s events on television. While the interest in the recent Laudato Si encyclical on the environment was significant, the attention paid to the Pope’s words during his U.S. trip exceeded that.
In case you missed the Pope’s comments on the environment:
He spoke of the environment on multiple occasions and venues. In some cases he went even further than he had gone in Laudato Si. This was most notable when he proclaimed at the United Nations that a true “right of the environment” exists (analogous to human rights).
In other appearances, Pope Francis said a lot more about what this means. For example, “We Christians, along with the other mono-theistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental goal.”
He alluded to the creation of jobs and livelihoods as an outgrowth of business activity that contribute to the common good. “This common good also includes the earth.” “The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive, and sustainable.”
He warned us all that “A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.” Francis is well known for his concern for the poor and for those “excluded” by society. “They [the poor] are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment.”
He went further when he said, “The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species”.
At his concluding Mass in Philadelphia, he noted, “The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development.”
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity”