Pope Francis called for care of “our common home” and for the “weaker members of our human family” during the 50th Earth Day celebration on April 22.
The pontiff warned that nature will not forgive the endless, mindless exploitation, societal division, and economic inequality that people have brought about across the world.
In a special catechesis after delivering his customary general audience from the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis called for “common action” and “ecological conversion.”
“This is an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family,” he said.
“As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst,” he added.
Citing his 2015 Encyclical Letter, “Laudato Si,” which dealt directly with environmental issues, the pope noted that “we are fashioned from the earth and that the fruit of the earth sustains our life.”
He said that as the “image of God,” everyone is called “to care for and respect all creatures, and to offer love and compassion to … the most vulnerable among us.”
The pontiff put to task everyone for failing to care for the Earth, which he described as “our garden-home.”
“We have failed to care for our brothers and sisters. We have sinned against the Earth, against our neighbors, and ultimately against the Creator,” he said.
Pope Francis said that restoring a “harmonious relationship with the Earth and with the rest of humanity” lies in “our relationship with people, with our neighbor, with the poor.”
“We need a new way of looking at our common home,” he said, adding that the “natural tragedies” that befell on humanity is “Earth’s response to our mistreatment.”
He said earth should not be treated as a “storehouse of resources for us to exploit” as he called for “sacred respect for the Earth,” describing it as “God’s home.”
The pontiff said “ecological conversion with concrete actions” is needed to avert the threats to Earth.
He called on world leaders for support for upcoming global meetings on the environment — the COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming, China, in October 2020, and the COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow, in November.
He also called for the creation of a popular movement “from below” in the local and national levels, noting that Earth Day was born this way.