Pope Francis Launches ‘Urgent Call’ to Respond to Ecological Crisis

Pope Francis greets Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg (R) during a weekly general audience at Saint Peter's square on April 17, 2019. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty

ROME — Pope Francis announced a “global campaign” to fight for the environment Tuesday, issuing an “urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis.”

The pope sent out a video message urging Catholics to participate in an upcoming week of ecological study to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the release of his landmark 2015 encyclical letter on the environment Laudato Sì.

“I would like to invite you to participate in Laudato Sì Week this May 16-24,” the pope said in his native Spanish. “It is a global campaign on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the encyclical letter Laudato Sì on the care for our common home.”

“I renew my urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis,” Francis said. “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor have reached their limits.”

“Let us take care of the creation, gift of our good Creator God. Let’s celebrate Laudato Sì Week together,” he concludes.

Francis is the first pope in history to devote an entire encyclical letter to the topic of the environment. In that text, the pontiff said that the earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” as “once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

He also denounced a failure to recycle paper and other resources, while calling climate change “a global problem with grave implications” and “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Citing “scientific studies,” the pontiff said that “most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”

Pope Francis has often spoken out on the environment and in 2018 called on humanity to hear “the increasingly desperate cries of the earth,” insisting that immediate action is needed to save the planet from being reduced to “rubble.”

Speaking to participants at the international conference “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth,” the pope stressed the “urgent need” for an “ecological conversion” as well as “concrete steps to save the planet.”

Our planet “needs urgently to be repaired and secured for a sustainable future,” the pontiff warned, without going into details.

Reiterating previous calls to action, Francis asserted that today “the pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.”

“There is a real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse,” he said, and “the effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.”

Present circumstances require “radical change,” the pontiff said, if humanity is to win the battle for the planet.

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