Pope Francis renews warning against exploitation of nature

Pope Francis has once again reminded the faithful against the exploitation of God’s creation in nature, saying that it results in the exploitation of people.

“Whoever lives to exploit nature ends up exploiting people and treating them as slaves,” said the pontiff in his general audience catechesis on Sept. 16.

“There is one thing that we must not forget: those who do not know how to contemplate nature and creation do not know how to contemplate people in their richness,” he added.

Pope Francis spoke in front of pilgrims in the Vatican for the third time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic this year.

In his catechesis, the pope spoke on healing the world after the pandemic, reflecting on a passage from the Book of Genesis that says “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.”

“To emerge from a pandemic, we need to look after and care for each other… We must support those who care for the weakest, the sick and the elderly,” he said.

He warned against the “tendency to cast the elderly aside, to abandon them,” describing it as “bad.”

“Caring is a golden rule of our nature as human beings, and brings with it health and hope,” the pope added.

“Taking care of those who are sick, of those who are in need, of those who are cast aside: This is a human, and also Christian, wealth,” he said.

People sit at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Sept. 16. (Photo by Yara Nardi/Reuters)

Pope Francis then said that caring should be extended to “our common home: To the earth and to every creature.”

He said that one way to cultivate the proper attitude and approach to nature is “to recover the contemplative dimension.”

“When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something far greater than their usefulness,” said the pope.

“We discover the intrinsic value of things bestowed on them by God,” he said.

“This is a universal law: If you do not know how to contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to know how to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister,” he said.

He noted that many spiritual teachers have taught how contemplation of the sky, earth, sea, and creatures has the capacity to “bring us back to the Creator and to communion with creation.”

Pope Francis urged the faithful to carry out “contemplation to reach love” by considering how God looks at his creatures and “rejoice with them.”

He said contemplation and care are two attitudes which help “correct and rebalance our relationship as human beings with creation,” he added.

The pontiff said that the relationship with creation helps people to become “guardians of the common home, guardians of life and guardians of hope.”

“We will guard the heritage that God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it,” he said.

He said that one cannot expect to continue to grow on a material level “without taking care of the common home that welcomes us.”

“Our poorest brothers and sisters and our mother earth lament for the damage and injustice we have caused, and demand we take another course,” he said.

“It demands of us a conversion, a change of path; taking care of the earth too, of creation,” added the pope.

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